NHS staff are hugely valued by the public. There are increasing challenges in retaining and recruiting qualified staff, with many leaving the NHS due to stress, work-life balance issues and stagnant pay - all issues created by long-term Government underfunding.
This year, almost 40% of GP training posts remain unfilled in some parts of the UK. Half of A&E junior doctor posts were unfilled in 2011 & 2012. A pay freeze for the past few years and the threat of longer hours for less pay is demoralising the crucial workforce of the NHS, from nurses to all allied healthcare professionals.
Staff will always be vital to ensure a safe, sustainable NHS. We need to ensure we recruit and retain suitably-trained staff, and encourage a motivating and respectful working environment.
The independent Commission should consider how to:
- Make the pay bodies for consultants and junior doctors (the DDRB) truly independent of Government. Its recommendations should be statutorily binding. The money available for staffing should be decided in a non-partisan, evidence-based manner.
- Currently the pay body is appointed by the Health Secretary with its terms of reference (what questions it considers) and its cost envelope (how much money is available for staffing) set by the Government of the day. This needs to be truly independent.
- Preserve the independence of the Royal Colleges to decide on how long it should take to train staff in all medical careers, and to decide on their training needs.
- Commission in-depth financial modelling to predict the cost of seven-day services and assess the impact of skills shortages.
- Preserve stability for staff, so sudden political changes do not threaten to throw their working lives into turmoil and uncertainty. Staff should be treated fairly as we need to recruit more allied healthcare professionals, nurses, GP’s, and hospital doctors.
- Ensure transparency by monthly publishing hospital staffing vacancy & full-time-equivalent GP's levels for the local population.