Responding to the General Medical Council’s report ‘The State of medical education and practice: workforce report 2023’, Suzie Bailey, Director of Leadership and Organisational Development at The King’s Fund, said:
‘Since long before Covid-19 struck, the NHS has been hamstrung by widespread staff shortages. Despite increases in staffing levels in recent years, some services are still limited by high vacancy rates, especially in general practice and community services. The government-backed NHS Long Term Workforce Plan set out some welcome ambitions to ramp up recruitment, but more effort will also have to go into retaining existing staff.
‘We agree that the expansion of flexible working is a good thing for the NHS workforce, and can lead to higher levels of job satisfaction, attracts people to an organisation, and allows people to fit work alongside other commitments.
‘We already know that trainees in some clinical professions intend to work more flexibly when they qualify. A survey by The King’s Fund asked GP trainees about their career plans one year after qualifying and found that 41% intend to work five to six clinical sessions a week out of a possible 10. And yet, the most recent NHS Staff Survey showed that less than half of staff said their organisation is committed to helping them balance their work and home life.
‘More positively, it’s good to see today’s figures showing that the number of doctors joining the UK medical register is rising and outstripping the number of doctors leaving the register. The NHS has been fortunate to benefit from overseas doctors coming to work in the English health service. However, the worsening global shortage of health care staff could mean England’s continued reliance on international recruitment is unsustainable.
‘The workforce crisis is at the heart of many of the challenges facing NHS and social care services in England. To solve this crisis, there is a need for action to make working in health and social care a more attractive career. This will need to be a priority of any future government wanting to ‘“fix”’ the NHS and social care, and improve people’s health.’
Notes to editors
As political parties prepare for the upcoming general election, The King’s Fund has identified three priorities where national action from a future government can help to ‘fix’ the NHS and social care, and improve people’s health: The King's Fund's priorities for health and care at the next general election | The King's Fund (kingsfund.org.uk)
Making careers in health and social care more attractive is one of these three priorities: Making careers in health and social care more attractive | The King's Fund (kingsfund.org.uk)
The King’s Fund published an explainer on the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan: The NHS Long Term Workforce Plan explained | The King's Fund (kingsfund.org.uk)
The King’s Fund surveyed GP trainees on their future career plans: Unsustainable workload, part-time working and portfolio careers: results of the GP trainee survey | The King's Fund (kingsfund.org.uk)
The King’s Fund published an explainer on international recruitment in the NHS: International recruitment in the NHS | The King's Fund (kingsfund.org.uk)
The latest official figures from the NHS show there are more than 125,000 vacancies across the NHS workforce in England, excluding primary care vacancies such as GPs, and this equates to just under 9% of the required NHS workforce.
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The King's Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and care in England. We help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; develop individuals, teams and organisations; promote understanding of the health and social care system; and bring people together to learn, share knowledge and debate. Our vision is that the best possible health and care is available to all.