30 May 2024

RCP Manifesto for medicine – a healthier nation with access to excellent care

2024 Manifesto Image

The RCP’s Manifesto for medicine – a healthier nation with access to excellent care calls on all political parties to commit to invest in five priority areas:

  1. workforce by ensuring that there are more physicians who have enough time to provide excellent patient care
  2. transformation by empowering physicians to work with patients to redesign healthcare
  3. prevention by developing a cross-government strategy to reduce health inequalities and prevent ill health
  4. sustainability by taking bold and ambitious action to tackle climate change and protect health
  5. innovation by ensuring that physicians are able to take part in clinical research and quality improvement.

The RCP is calling on the next government to commit to a range of policies to support doctors to deliver high-quality healthcare, from prioritising staff retention and creating more postgraduate training posts, to investing in well-functioning, interoperable IT systems, NHS equipment, facilities, estates and digital infrastructure with an ambitious multi-year capital funding settlement. The next government must:

  • support protected time for career development, education, research and quality improvement for all doctors develop and deliver a plan to support educators, supervisors, mentors and trainers by working with employers in the NHS to increase capacity for medical education and training
  • commission a review of postgraduate medical training that looks at how doctors want to learn and work in the future
  • fund and implement the NHS England commitment to double medical school places and expand the number of postgraduate training places
  • revise independent staffing projections every 2 years, prioritising improved granularity of specialty data to inform future projections of the number of specialty training places needed to meet population demand
  • take a zero-tolerance approach to workplace harassment, bullying and sexual misconduct in the NHS and develop systems to hold individuals and organisations to account
  • limit the further expansion of the PA role until issues of regulation, standards and scope of practice are addressed.

The RCP is also calling on the next government to reintroduce the Tobacco and Vapes Bill, take action on obesity and air pollution, and deliver a cross-government strategy to reduce health inequalities. As convenor of the Inequalities in Health Alliance (IHA), the RCP has campaigned for a cross-government health inequalities strategy since 2020. Earlier this year, findings from the 2023 RCP census found that over half (55%) of UK consultant physician respondents said that they had seen more patients with illnesses that have been either caused or worsened by wider determinants of health in the last 3 months. Reducing avoidable illness is central to reducing avoidable demand for healthcare. A coordinated, cross-government strategy to reduce health inequalities that addresses the factors that cause ill health in the first place – such as poor housing, food quality, low income and air pollution – must be a priority for the next government. 

To transform healthcare delivery, all parties must commit to create sufficient hospital and community-based capacity, and reduce planned care waiting lists and transform outpatient care by expanding the workforce and investing in transformation of the wider system. The RCP is also calling on the next government to deliver a long-term comprehensive plan for social care that strengthens the health and care system and creates a workforce with attractive and competitive roles.

The RCP manifesto also calls for action on sustainability and innovation. The climate crisis is the biggest global threat to health – the next government must prioritise a just transition from fossil fuels, ensure a robust and credible pathway for reaching the UK’s emission reduction targets and appropriately fund and support the NHS to prioritise environmental sustainability and reduce the environmental impact of healthcare delivery.

The successful development of the COVID-19 vaccine illustrated the importance of clinical research in healthcare. Embedding research in everyday practice for all physicians will help to ensure that the NHS has the research capacity it needs and patients have access to the latest treatments and innovation. The next government must recognise clinical research as part of direct clinical care for doctors, incentivise doctors, medical students and other health professionals to participate in research and support protected time for research in job plans for those who want a substantive research leadership role.

Download the RCP manifesto