Only a third of NHS doctors are involved in winter planning at their trust, a survey has found.
A Royal College of Physician (RCP) survey published yesterday found that only 29% of the 1,737 respondents – who included foundation doctors, trainees, consultants and specialty and associate specialist doctors – said they had been asked to take part in winter planning in their organisation.
The findings come after last winter was found to be one of the worst on record and emergency services were revealed to be experiencing a ‘year-round’ crisis due to prolonged pressures during the summer, according to a BMA analysis published this month.
Over half of the respondents to the RCP survey (56%) also said they are worried or very worried about the ability of their service to deliver safe care this winter.
Alarmingly, the findings also showed that only 66 of the 1,737 respondents knew how the emergency funding for social care that was announced last month will be used to reduce pressure on their hospital.
In September, health and social care secretary Matt Hancock also pledged £145m to help trusts cope with winter pressures.
RCP president Professor Andrew Goddard said: ‘We know the Government and NHS are doing much more to plan for winter than they were prior to 2017/18. We also know that staff will continue to go above and beyond this winter. But it’s critical that they feel valued.
‘We urge trusts to take this opportunity to share their plans with staff now, and adapt them where possible based on feedback from the frontline.’
RCP vice president for education and training Emma Vaux said consultants ‘have a responsibility’ to make themselves aware of the winter plans at their organisation as they need to know how they will impact their trainees.
She added: ‘When a trainee does come to us from a different area, we must make sure they have a good induction and ongoing clinical supervision. We must consider their clinical competence in an unfamiliar specialty and support them appropriately.’
The call to improve the involvement of frontline staff in winter planning was echoed by NHS Employers chief executive Danny Mortimer.
He said: ‘This report highlights the need to engage clinical staff in responding to those pressures and we would encourage trusts to share their winter plans with their staff as soon as possible.’