22 October 2021
Responding to the CQC’s State of Care 2020/21 report, Dr Katherine Henderson, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said:
“We welcome the CQC’s State of Care 2020/21 report, it clearly illustrates the countless pressure points across the health and social care service. This must be a call to action as the current situation is not sustainable.
“At the heart of the issue is workforce. The report cites the Health Foundation who state that in 2020/21 there was a workforce gap of 115,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff – this is equal to nearly 10% of the current workforce.
“The pressures of the pandemic increased instances of burnout, stress, mental fatigue and other mental health conditions among health care staff but tackling the pandemic with widespread workforce shortages maximised this strain on staff, exacerbating the rise in these conditions.
“In Emergency Medicine there are shortages of consultants, nurses, trainees, SAS doctors, and other essential staff. At the same time many existing Emergency Medicine staff are reconsidering their careers. A long-term workforce plan that covers both recruitment and retention of staff is essential for the future of the NHS.
“These shortages affect the delivery and quality of patient care. The report makes clear that social care has especially suffered, with difficulties recruiting and retaining staff. Social care staff shortages leave vulnerable patients without the care they desperately need.
“Ambulance handover delays have become more and more frequent, which threaten patient safety and leave paramedics queuing, unable to respond to urgent and emergency calls. GPs have also faced significant pressure, rolling out the vaccination programme while simultaneously moving to a hybrid mix of remote and face-to-face consultations, all amid widespread negative press.
“We welcome the positive findings around discharge to assess but it is also clear the model must be improved, particularly for follow-up services and support.
“The pandemic highlighted the stark health inequalities in our health systems, particularly around race and ethnicity but also around learning disabilities. We support the call for leaders in local systems to implement strategies to tackle these inequalities.
“Looking ahead, recruiting and retaining staff in both the NHS and in social care must be a priority. The workforce as it stands is likely to continue to struggle to meet population demand. Next week’s spending review is an opportunity for the government to allocate funding to address these workforce shortages and begin to fulfil the pledges they made to the health and social care service.”
Notes to Editor