Policy statement




14 October 2022

RCP view on the NHS workforce: short and medium-term solutions

Staffing shortages are the biggest barrier to meeting demand for care and delivering healthcare sustainably in the long-term. Staffing levels impact not only patients accessing care, but their experience of care.

Ultimately, a long-term plan for increasing staffing numbers, including expanding medical school places, is sorely needed to put the NHS workforce back on sustainable footing, restore timely access to care and protect patient safety. We therefore urge the government to publish the forthcoming long-term NHS workforce strategy by the end of 2022.

Given the amount of time that it takes to train new doctors, we cannot just wait for new medical students to qualify and begin practising. In our position paper we highlight a range of short- and medium-term measures that should be taken to increase the number of health and care staff, improve retention and support those approaching retirement age. They include action to:

  • ensure that health and care staff from overseas who wish to come to the UK and work in the NHS have the opportunities and support to do so
  • help staff to access flexible, affordable childcare
  • embrace flexibility, including in training – the RCP has developed a toolkit on working flexibly, which includes tips for those at different stages of their career and advice on discussing flexible working with employers
  • encourage and facilitate retire and return, including by using portfolio job plans that maximise the benefits of returners’ professional experience

You can download the paper below. For further information or if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us via policy@rcp.ac.uk