An eventful month, but a single issue. My favourite hobbyhorse, the medical workforce. And I’m pleased to announce that the BSH is making a major investment to understand the scale of the pressures we all face…see below.
As we navigate the difficulties of nurse strikes alongside an impending junior doctors strike this subject is impossible to avoid. Although pay is a key issue there is little doubt that the increasing demands on a short-staffed, cash-strapped, resource-deprived NHS are resulting in a marked decline in working conditions and staff wellbeing. As a consequence we are normalising poor care. A colleague said to me recently that the joy had gone from their job. A sad indictment of the current state of affairs. Over the last few months BSH has received messages from other colleagues struggling to manage workloads. The following are illustrative examples:
As a junior doctor, I was often left feeling lost and unsupported, drowning in a never-ending list of jobs. I came in early. I stayed late. I was constantly exhausted. The more I gave, the more the job took from me until I felt completely broken and had nothing else to give.
The NHS needs to start considering the health and wellbeing of their staff, otherwise there will be very few people left who are prepared to do a job which forces them to compromise their own health and wellbeing.
Although anecdotal, these comments paint a picture, and it isn’t a pretty one. In 2019 BSH published a report on the state of haematology staffing. The Pandemic rendered this obsolete quite quickly but the report identified high impending consultant retirement rates, a lack of nurse specialists and clinical scientists. Even at that point, staff were reporting high levels of stress resulting in sick leave.
For some months the BSH Board and workforce group have been discussing following the 2019 report with a larger scale whole system workforce study. I’m now delighted to announce the successful appointment of Professor Alison Leary and her colleagues in Healthcare and Workforce Modelling at London South Bank University as our research partner for this major piece of work.
This will have three primary aims:
1) Workload and multi-professional workforce projections by subspecialty
2) Formal assessment of staff wellbeing within the haematology workforce
3) An investigation into novel modes of service delivery on the basis that the future may already be here, just unevenly distributed.
The project is anticipated to take at least a year, but will provide invaluable evidence about how the workforce and wellbeing issues we are all facing can be repaired.
We intend to appoint a senior haematology trainee or newly appointed consultant as a Clinical Fellow to work with LSBU on this project. This will be a unique opportunity for the appropriate individual. If you are interested then keep an eye on the Bulletins for further information.
Professor Leary is a leading national and international figure in this field and we are honoured that she has chosen to work with us. She will be one of our keynote speakers at the ASM in April and I urge you to come along and hear what she has to say.
We are interested to hear more of your experiences of workload and wellbeing (good or bad) as we build a bank of anecdotes. I’m aware this falls someway short of a rigorous qualitative assessment, which we will leave to the LSBU team. However I envisage these stories will contribute to a powerful narrative and be valuable when we come to communicate our findings and leverage change. If you would like to share your story with us then please either fill in our web form located on the workforce page here, or email to our Head of Engagement Theresa Crossley [email protected]
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the BSH office team and BSH board members who have contributed to the development of this project particularly Sue Pavord, Fiona Miall, Subarna Chakravorty and Mark Ethell.