11 October 2023

The doctors behind the debate

The Doctors Behind The Debate

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 launched The doctors behind the debate, the latest in a series of joint briefing papers calling on assembly members to return to Stormont, form a new Executive and approve a multi-year budget for health and care.

The paper makes more than 50 recommendations aimed at improving staff retention and wellbeing at Health and Social Care Northern Ireland (HSCNI). It also sets out the detailed Northern Ireland findings from the 2022 UK census of consultant physicians, providing fresh insight into the demographics and mindset of senior doctors in the region.

It warns that 38% of consultant physicians are expected to reach their intended retirement age within the next decade, which is likely to remove more than 200 doctors from the medical workforce by 2032. Without enough doctors in training staying in Northern Ireland to replace them, workforce shortages will continue to worsen, leading to even tougher working conditions. 

The three UK royal colleges of physicians are charities committed to the development and delivery of the highest possible standards of patient care in the UK and beyond. We work together to deliver postgraduate training, assessment and continuing medical education in the UK and we advocate on behalf of patients and our fellows and members, campaigning for improvements in patient care and public health. Together we represent around 50,000 physicians worldwide, including around 1,000 fellows and members in Northern Ireland. Our collaborative approach reflects shared concerns about the challenges facing healthcare in Northern Ireland.