04 / 3 / 2013 Midnight
The new report 'Hospital workforce: Fit for the future?' by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) misses a trick in the debate around the need for cultural changes in medical care, says Dean Royles, chief executive of the NHS Employers organisation.
Mr Royles said:
"The report is timely but misses a trick in the important debate about how to improve medical services and working arrangements. We need changes to contractual working arrangements for medical staff and more of our existing consultants working over seven days.
"There have been great steps forward in obstetrics, gynaecology and paediatrics around consultant level doctors sharing the burden with registrars during evening and weekend shifts. If consultant level doctors in all medical fields embraced out-of-hours shifts, it would go a long way towards ensuring there are enough experienced doctors available at all times, and that registrars were being well trained and supervised. That has to be better for patients.
"Employers will welcome working alongside the Royal College of Physicians and other organisations to develop the medical workforce. We want to keep exploring areas where improvements are possible, for example around career pathways and developing how and when doctors work, before simply calling for more and more doctors.
"Discussions are taking place to modernise the junior doctors' contract and this would itself be part of the solution to these issues, as would repurposing the outdated Clinical Excellence Awards system so that it awards on delivery of excellent local services."