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Surgeons respond to Health and Social Care Committee Report: Workforce: recruitment, training, and retention in Health and Social Care

25 Jul 2022

The Health and Social Care Committee report Workforce: recruitment, training and retention, illustrates the scale of the workforce shortage in the NHS.  Among its key recommendations are that:
  • The Government must act swiftly to reform the NHS pension scheme to prevent senior staff from reducing their hours and retiring early from the NHS.
  • The NHS should develop a strategy to attract and retain more women into surgery

Commenting, Professor Neil Mortensen, President of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said:

"With hospital waiting lists at a record high of 6.6 million, NHS staff are under huge pressure.  Persistent vacancies leave many feeling disillusioned, overworked and at high risk of burn out.  With mounting waiting lists, rising inflation and ever-increasing demands, the NHS cannot afford to lose experienced staff who are willing and able to work.

"We agree that urgent action is needed to reform NHS pensions and prevent the haemorrhage of senior staff.  69% of surgeons have reduced the amount of time they spent working in the NHS as a direct result of changes to pension taxation rules.[1]  

“The Committee recognised too that we must attract and retain more women into surgery and senior NHS positions. Talented women are missing out on the opportunity to become surgeons because of a lack of support.  The Committee has agreed with us that the NHS should develop a strategy to attract and retain more women into surgery. We hope government will accept this recommendation and we stand ready to support them in this work.

"Surgical trainees also need to catch up on missed training opportunities caused by the pandemic.  Every opportunity must be taken to ensure that every planned NHS operation includes a surgical trainee, including those that take place in the independent sector. We also need to see a fully funded workforce plan as soon as possible, to fill vacancies in the NHS and improve staff wellbeing."

Notes to editors

  • RCS England evidence to the HSC inquiry.
  • 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.
  • For more information, please contact the RCS Eng Press Office:
    Telephone: 020 7869 6052/6055
    For out-of-hours media enquiries: 020 7869 6056

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