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Three UK royal colleges of physicians come together to launch renewed call for action in Northern Ireland

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The three UK royal colleges of physicians – the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow – have today launched Talking with trainees – once again joining forces to call for a functioning Northern Ireland executive to deliver a multi-year budget.

With more than a quarter of higher specialty trainee physicians in Northern Ireland saying they almost never feel in control of their workload, two in five saying they feel emotionally drained at work almost all or most of the time, over half saying they work excessive hours and have an excessive workload, and three-quarters of them saying there are daily or weekly rota gaps in their hospital, we need to act fast to support our junior doctors. These doctors-in-training are working under intense pressure in hospitals across Northern Ireland, often bearing the brunt of the crisis in acute and emergency care, treating hundreds of patients every week, all while studying for professional exams based on a very demanding curriculum.

On 1 March 2023, the three presidents of the UK royal colleges of physicians met with trainee doctors to hear about the reality of working in the Northern Ireland health and social care system. Now the three colleges have published a follow-up briefing with three key priorities:

  1. Retention of the current workforce: Health and Social Care Northern Ireland (HSCNI) should focus on improving staff wellbeing and keeping people in the workforce alongside expanding medical school places and recruiting staff from outside Northern Ireland.
  2. Implementation of existing strategies: HSCNI should show leadership by implementing existing transformation strategies and regional working plans. We must all work together towards solutions.
  3. Share best practice and knowledge: Improving communication and building networks would inform a more positive message about Northern Ireland and would encourage more people to join the HSCNI workforce. 

This new briefing sets out more than 20 recommendations. The three colleges are keen to work with HSCNI leaders to support our members, share good practice and drive real improvements in patient care.