In the latest edition of our membership magazine “voice”, our President Professor Jackie Taylor has written an update on her work on your behalf. The full update is below. College Members can read the full magazine through our website.
As we approach the end of my first year in office as your College President, I’ve been reflecting how much progress we’ve made over the space of ten short months. When I took office last December I promised to focus our work on the key issues which affect our membership, and use our voice to stand up for our profession across the UK and beyond.
It’s a sad reflection of the working conditions within our modern health service that that 1 in 4 doctors in training and 1 in 5 trainers in the UK are experiencing burnout at work. Every three weeks a doctor here commits suicide. This is unacceptable and unsustainable, it simply cannot be allowed to continue. So in this context, what does “standing up for the profession” mean in practice? It means, for example, working in partnership with others to run the fantastic “Making Life Work Better” conference that I had the pleasure to attend in college this week. Rather than focusing on the challenges that we all face in our day to day work, this sold out event was a celebration of solidarity and good practice where we heard from a range of speakers and contributors on how to improve our wellbeing and work/life balance.
While the college is already working on how we build on last month’s event to provide additional practical support for our membership, I’ll continue to use my influence over the weeks and months ahead to speak up for our profession and make the point to health boards, other employers and Scottish Government that improving our wellbeing needs a system wide approach.
At the same time I know that there is much more work to be done to address the root cause of much of this distress – the chronic workforce shortages which blight our health service. Over the past few years I’m proud of the work we’ve carried out in partnership with other health organisations and Royal Colleges to highlight this issue. From running the annual census of UK physicians to playing our part in highlighting the growing number of vacancies in the Scottish NHS we’ve been vocal about this issue in order to keep it on the political agenda.
I believe that if we’re really to stand up for the best interests of our membership and the wider profession, we need to be engaged in finding a solution rather than just pointing out what’s going wrong. That’s why over the past few months we’ve also been leading the work by the Royal Medical Colleges in Scotland to produce a blueprint to combat our workforce crisis. In this document we’ve set out a series of practical and deliverable proposals which, if adopted, would improve flexibility of contracts, boost retention of both doctors in training and our most experienced consultants, and set in place a set of firm foundations for securing a stable and sustainable workforce in future.
As I approach my first anniversary in post, I’m proud of how much work has gone in to address the priorities that I’ve set out from everyone across our college community. With your support I look forward to being able to report on the progress we’re making over the months ahead.