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Press statement: HCSA warns of risk to patient safety following GMC report

The Hospital Consultants & Specialists Association – the only professional association and trade union dedicated solely to hospital doctors – has warned today it is a matter of “when not if” patient safety suffers amid an ongoing squeeze on training time and rock-bottom morale among doctors.

The warning follows an unprecedented General Medical Council report on the state of medical education and practice in the UK.

Hospital Consultants & Specialists Association Chief Executive Eddie Saville said: “The fact that the General Medical Council, an organisation not known for stark warnings, has felt it appropriate to link plummeting morale among doctors with fears over patient care backs up the worrying evidence from HCSA members working in the UK’s hospitals.”

“Our own research last year highlighted an unsustainable NHS culture driving ill health and stress and leaving an unprecedented number of senior doctors eyeing an exit from the profession.

“The GMC highlights a similar exodus among trainees, and also echoes HCSA’s fears that training and learning within the NHS are suffering because of resource shortages.

“Our members have told us that SPA time, which for many is the part of the week when senior doctors are in a position to focus on the training of juniors, is facing an unprecedented squeeze.

“What under national guidelines should be done in 10 hours a week is increasingly expected to be done in just four. There is little wonder that this is having a negative impact, not just on training but in terms of stress and low morale through trying to squeeze too much out of too few.

“Unless urgent steps are taken to tackle shortages, a stifling culture that puts cuts before care, and the intolerable day-to-day pressures on medical staff, we predict that there could indeed be an impact on patient safety. It appears increasingly to be a matter of when not if.”