To safeguard patient safety and the wellbeing of healthcare staff, a realistic approach to tackling the backlog of non-COVID care is needed. NHS and public health services have been running ‘hot’ for a prolonged period of time and an overstretched and exhausted workforce must now be given time to rest and recuperate as they meet the challenges ahead. If staff are being pushed too hard to restore routine care in an unrealistic timeframe and without suitable resources, the likelihood is that we will see a workforce squeeze due to a combination of increasingly high staff absence rates and staff reducing their hours or leaving the workforce altogether. This would make it harder for health services to get back on track and provide timely and safe care to patients who need it.
To ensure services resume safely both for patients and for those providing care, the BMA in this report is calling for:
- All governments and system leaders across the UK to have an honest conversation with the public about the need for a realistic approach to restoring non-COVID care, and support for systems to tackle the backlog.
- Health, safety, and mental wellbeing of the workforce to remain a top priority.
- Additional resourcing to help tackle the backlog.
- Measures to expand system capacity.
- Measures to retain doctors and expand the medical workforce.