Winter chaos in hospitals as a third of doctors say NHS is not ready for challenges

NHS doctors explain the Winter Vaccines

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Due to the combination of the coronavirus pandemic and the seasonal flu, the already-strained NHS is bracing itself for an extremely difficult winter. Now, a poll of more than 800 doctors found a third of medics do not believe the NHS is ready for the upcoming challenges.

Out of those surveyed, at least 36 percent said their organisation was not at all prepared for winter.

Around 27 percent of doctors said they were personally unprepared and almost two thirds said they were feeling tired or exhausted.

Overall, around 37 percent of staff said they were demoralised and 33 percent felt pessimistic.

In the comments to the poll, one medic said “morale in the workplace is at an all-time low”.

Another added that they “cannot see an end to it”.

A third respondent said: “Winter is coming – uncertain times.

“If not prepared it can go pear-shaped and end up in a bad way.

“Our region is already feeling the pinch of increased numbers at the front end and struggling with social care.

“We remain optimistic and proud to be a part of NHS in fighting past, present and future waves of pressures and keep patients safe as much as humanly possible.

“I only hope government recognises and reinforces our workforce and supports us.”

The RCP called for a workplace plan to ensure there is enough staff for the NHS and social care in the future.

The RCP alongside the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Nursing, NHS Providers, NHS Confederation, Macmillan Cancer Support and others, have proposed an amendment to the Health and Care Bill.

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This amendment would strengthen workforce planning by ensuring every two years the Health Secretary publishes independently verified assessments of current and future workforce numbers.

Andrew Goddard, president of the RCP, said: “There are no two ways about it – it’s an incredibly difficult time to be working in medicine.

“Some things, such as embracing flexible working, will help to improve morale now, while increasing the size of the workforce will ensure that in future, staff never feel as under pressure and undervalued as they do today.

“We need a commitment from government to produce regular, independent and published assessments of future workforce requirements across the NHS and social care.

“This will give us much-needed long-term projections of workforce needs so that enough staff are being trained up to meet those requirements.”

The deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery, added: “This new survey reinforces our concerns about pressures facing the NHS this winter.

“NHS frontline staff continue to work incredibly hard and trust leaders pay tribute to their commitment and dedication.

“It is always deeply concerning to hear reports of low morale among the medical workforce. Trust leaders have repeatedly raised concerns about workforce burnout in the NHS.

“This is even more important as we head into the challenging winter months.

“The NHS is already under significant strain as the health service works flat out to recover care backlogs, deal with increased demand for emergency care, while grappling with serious staffing pressures.

“This winter the NHS could be the busiest it’s ever been. It is vital national bodies work with NHS leaders to get the planning for winter pressures right to help manage the risk ahead.”

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