The RCP has responded to the statement by Thérèse Coffey, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, following publication of the government's plans for the NHS and social care.
Dr Sarah Clarke, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said:
“We welcome Thérèse Coffey restating the government’s commitment to a long-term NHS workforce strategy. The importance of a comprehensive workforce strategy to the future sustainability of the NHS cannot be overstated, and we hope it will be published by the end of the year as originally planned.
“Immediate measures are important, so we welcome plans to extend until 2024 the existing temporary measures to allow the most experienced staff to return to service or continue providing much-needed care; to recruit more staff to health and social care from overseas, and to investing in measures to support discharge of patients from hospital. Investment in social care is crucial to resolving issues with hospital discharges, but in the long-run successful integration of health and social care will rest on funding for both as equal partners.
“Investing in the workforce needs to be accompanied by bold action to help people lead healthier lives. A healthy population is key to economic growth, as well as reducing pressure on the NHS.
“Where was the recognition from the Secretary of State that health inequalities, highlighted and exacerbated by the pandemic, must be reduced? COVID-19 should have been a turning point in the nation’s health: we need a specific cross-government strategy to reduce health inequalities that uses every policy lever available to tackle the factors that make people ill in the first place.”