The next government must put patient safety at the heart of the continued Brexit negotiations and invest in the health and care workforce, public health and prevention, a capital programme and social care provision.
The RCP calls on the next government to ensure that the promises made in the NHS Long Term Plan can be delivered, as well as ensuring that all the UK nations have the resources to deliver health and care systems which meet the needs of the populations they serve.
In Brexit negotiations, the RCP calls on the government to place patient safety and protecting the nation’s health at the heart of discussions by:
- creating an immigration system and environment which welcome the skills and talents of people from overseas who want to work in our health and care system
- ensuring the UK’s exit from the EU does not negatively impact patients’ ability to participate in and benefit from high-quality research, particularly with regard to funding
- delivering continued collaboration on drug regulation between the European Medicines Agency and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to ensure that patients do not experience delays accessing treatments and industry continues to conduct research in the UK
- providing protection for the NHS in any new trade agreements post Brexit.
Measures to support the NHS workforce should encompass ‘easy wins’ such as the expansion of the Medical Training Initiative, an international recruitment scheme currently allowing 1,500 doctors a year to come live, work and train in Britain for a maximum of 2 years before returning to their own countries.
It was widely rumoured over a year ago that ministers would expand the MTI to allow as many as 3,000 non-EU medics to come to the UK. This was also alluded to in the NHS Long Term Plan published in January, but the number of places on the scheme still hasn’t increased.
This comes as a recent census of almost 6,000 members of the RCP showed that 45% of advertised consultant posts are going unfilled due to a lack of suitable applicants.
Professor Andrew Goddard, president of the Royal College of Physicians said: ‘Clinicians are putting our faith in the next government to get to grips with the health and care workforce crisis.’
‘Time after time the stats show just how short of staff we really are, but anyone working on the front line will tell you the real situation is even worse than the stats.’
‘The next government must deliver for the hardworking and dedicated NHS staff. We need to rapidly increase the numbers of doctors, nurses and other clinicians in training while also creating an environment where our people are valued, recognised and rewarded.’
‘The challenges are stark, but we stand ready to work with the next government in partnership to create a sustainable workforce fit for the future.’