RCoA responds to the NHS People Plan

Published: 30/07/2020

Responding to the publication of the NHS People Plan 2020/21, Professor Ravi Mahajan, President of the Royal College of Anaesthetists said:

“We welcome this Plan which underlines the link between the wellbeing of health and care staff and patient safety, as an important first step in the Secretary of State’s commitment to “build back better”. People remain the NHS’ greatest asset, so ensuring their health and wellbeing is critical to the delivery of safe and effective patient care. 

 “Along with this People Plan, and the People Promise of a more compassionate, inclusive culture, the government must also uphold its commitment to invest in staff in order to support their welfare and wellbeing, build resilience and address inequality.

 “While the devastating impact of COVID-19 has been felt by staff and patients alike, we should recognise that it has also fostered a new culture of multi-disciplinary working in the NHS, and we are pleased to see the Plan recognise the crucial impact this has had in saving lives. We welcome the Secretary of State’s acknowledgement that “capturing a culture open to collaboration and change” is what is needed to ensure the NHS meets the needs of the patient more than the needs of the institution. Well-supported multi-disciplinary perioperative staff can deliver the holy grail of healthcare: high quality clinical outcomes, reduced costs and patient satisfaction. Patients being better prepared for surgery, recovering faster, and feeling empowered is what we should be aiming for.

 “We reiterate our call that now is the time for the NHS to develop a ‘reservist’ workforce to speed its ability to respond to future health crises. However, with a 6.5% decline in anaesthetists in training, a 19.8% SAS anaesthetist gap and a 6.8% consultant anaesthetist gap1, the government’s Spending Review in the autumn must include a comprehensive multi-year funding settlement to develop the wider multi-professional anaesthetic workforce. This is essential if the government is serious about ensuring that COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients receive the best possible care during the pandemic and beyond.

 “Now is the time to re-group, re-build and support our people to deliver the best possible care, and this Plan is an important first step in building a better future beyond COVID-19. Positive changes learned during the pandemic must not be forgotten, and collaborative working must endure to become the norm across the NHS.”


  1. The UK’s anaesthetic workforce: information from the Royal College of Anaesthetists