Professor Jackie Taylor, President of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow has written the following blog to highlight a new briefing document, Recovering the healthcare workforce and service for our patients.
The Scottish Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties and BMA Scotland have worked together to produce a new briefing document to ensure that the views of the healthcare workforce contribute to discussions around recovery, remobilisation and transformation of the health service in the months and years ahead.
Recovering the healthcare workforce and service for our patients has been sent to Humza Yousaf MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care and other key figures in Scottish Government and healthcare administration. I was proud to add my signature along with Miles Mack, Chair of the Scottish Academy of Royal Colleges and Lewis Morrison, Chair of BMA Scottish Council.
In our document, we outline the four key inter-dependent areas of workforce, workload, wellbeing and innovation, with patient care at the core. It is essential that each one of these areas is considered in initiatives focused on recovery, remobilisation and transformation, and in the government’s commitments to increasing productivity, tackling backlogs and developing new services.
Our Colleges, Faculties and BMA Scotland offer our ongoing help and input as we seek to move forward. We call for the government to discuss any comments on the content and approach outlined in our document, and let us know how we can be most helpful in ensuring that collectively we do all we can to enable the health and social care workforce to be prepared for the challenging years ahead.
Strategic, creative and experienced input will be essential as we seek to address the impact of the pandemic on the health of the workforce, the management and treatment of patients awaiting care, and preparations for Autumn/Winter 2021.
As our College highlighted in our Holyrood Election Manifesto published ahead of the 6 May Scottish Parliament elections, the COVID-19 pandemic has magnified a number of problems that already existed in our health service. These include: workforce shortages, high levels of stress and burnout, poor staff wellbeing, health inequalities and demand that outstripped capacity, resulting in increased waiting times for patients.
Our workforce is extremely fatigued. Many are suffering from psychological distress and mental health disorders, and there is a huge backlog of patients waiting for care across all specialties. While treatment has continued for most patients in the highest risk groups, there are high levels of morbidity among patients in lower risk groups, which impacts on their function and quality of life. Also, due to reduction in our diagnostic capacity, there is a burden of undiagnosed pathology yet to manifest.
The need for workforce recovery and the remobilisation and renewal of services are inextricably linked and should be seen as intersecting areas. Action to address workforce recovery must begin immediately, to support remobilisation, and to allow capacity for renewal and transformation through innovation. Only then will we be able to create the sustainable healthcare service that patients in Scotland will need for the future.
‘Recovering the healthcare workforce and service for our patients’ sets out the actions we believe are most urgent in supporting workforce recovery to ensure we are prepared to remobilise, innovate and transform the health service for the future.