A recent survey carried out by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has shown that a substantial number of NHS staff do not believe they will be able to care for patients properly this winter.
The poll asked frontline medical staff if they believed they could keep their patients safe. It found that 58% of doctors in the UK were either “worried” or “very worried” about hospitals’ ability to deliver adequate care to patients this year.
Furthermore, less than 20% of the doctors, consultants, trainee doctors, and other medics survey expressed that they were “confident” or “very confident”. One of the biggest concerns was the rising pressure on NHS services, especially during the winter months.
Health secretary Matt Hancock recently announced that an extra £240 million would be provided to improve social care services. This would be used to help free up hospital beds by helping and supporting patients in their own homes.
Less than a third of doctors said they have been asked to take part in further planning this year, and 96% of physicians didn’t know how extra funding, which has been pledged for social care, would be used in hospitals.
Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, described the results as “alarming”. He added that the government “must do more” to make sure there’s enough funding to run frontline services.
In an interview, he said: “There was no extra cash for acute trusts in the recent budget for winter and we know many hospitals are facing intense pressures following this year’s ‘summer crisis’. It would be unforgivable if patients suffer another winter like last year. Ministers urgently need to reassure us they have a plan and will make proper funds available.”
RCP president professor Andrew Goddard noted: “We know the government and NHS are doing much more to plan for winter than they were prior to 2017-18. But these findings show it is still not filtering down to staff on the wards, who need to feel confident that plans are in place to deal with the inevitable increase in demand, so they can get on with the job of providing direct clinical care. When we’re concerned that the wheels could fall off at any moment, the pressure goes up and morale goes down.”