NHS 50,000 Doctors Short!

Junior doctors taking strike action to defend jobs and their conditions

THE NHS is 50,000 doctors short new British Medical Association (BMA) re-search released yesterday has found.

The number of doctors in England has fallen even further behind comparable European Union nations, with an estimated shortfall of 50,000 doctors ahead of what is expected to be one of the worst winters on record for the health service in terms of demand and backlog of care.

England has a much lower doctor to population ratio than comparable EU countries, with just 2.8 doctors per 1,000 people, in comparison to an EU average of 3.7.

BMA research at the start of the summer showed that meeting this average would require scaling up our medical workforce by an additional 31% – or an additional 49,162 full-time equivalent (FTE) doctors. Now, latest data shows the situation has further deteriorated, with falling primary and secondary care doctor numbers pushing the shortage up to 50,191 FTE doctors. This reflects a loss of 1,029 FTE doctors – 919 in primary care and 110 in secondary care – over two months.

Workforce is a theme running through the BMA’s Annual Representative Meeting (ARM), which began yesterday.

The ongoing workforce crisis means staff are exhausting themselves working longer hours to keep up with patient demand. Some even feel as though they have no choice but to leave the NHS altogether to get the respite they need. This further depletes the workforce and puts even more pressure on those that remain.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said: ‘Alarm bells should have sounded when we struggled to staff the Nightingale hospitals, so Government really cannot afford to put this off any longer.

‘Since then, we’ve seen hospital waiting lists in England grow to 5.61 million, high numbers of A&E patients waiting longer than four hours, and staff morale hit rock-bottom – all of which pose real and regular risks to patient care and safety.’

• At a special press conference yesterday afternoon Professor Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer for England, announced that the UK’s four chief medical officers (CMOs) have said that children aged between 12-15 should be offered a first dose of the Pfizer/BioN/Tech vaccine.