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Surgeons comment on BMA reports into the Government’s handling of the pandemic

19 May 2022

The British Medical Association has today published two reports into the Government’s handling of the pandemic and its impact on the NHS, the health of the population, and doctors.  Commenting on this, Professor Neil Mortensen, President of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said: “These reports make for distressing reading.  Sadly, they echo what our members were telling us at the time. Back in April 2020, we carried out our own survey. A third (32.5%) of the UK surgeons who took part1 told us they did not believe they had an adequate supply of masks, gowns and other protective equipment in their Health Board or Trust, to do their jobs safely.

“Tragically, surgeons were among the dedicated NHS staff who died from the virus as they tried to help their patients.

“As the BMA’s reports suggest, we know the pandemic has also affected surgeons in other ways. Many of our trainees were re-deployed to assist on COVID-19 wards. Their surgical training has been hugely disrupted and they have had to put their lives on hold. Some surgeons have also suffered the emotional toll of working in such difficult circumstances during the pandemic, and of not being able to operate on their patients due to the size of the waiting list that has built up since.

“It’s vital that as we turn our attention to reducing the backlog in planned treatment, staff do not bear the brunt by having to work excessively long hours. With 110,000 staff vacancies in England alone, the NHS desperately needs a robust workforce plan.  It is also critical that we support our surgical trainees to progress.  Service recovery and the recovery of surgical education and training must go hand-in-hand.  This is key to tackling the record waiting list we face and to the future of the surgical profession.”


Notes to editors

  1. Survey results: PPE and testing for clinicians during COVID-19 — Royal College of Surgeons (
  2. The College has a Confidential Support and Advice Service from a trained counsellor for members who are experiencing problems in their work or personal life, or who are seeking, legal and financial information and guidance. The number is: 0800 028 0199. Advice is available 24/7.  For more information see: Wellbeing Support and Resources — Royal College of Surgeons of England (
  3. The Royal College of Surgeons of England is a professional membership organisation and registered charity, which exists to advance surgical standards and improve patient care.
  4. For more information, please contact the Press Office:

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