The whole healthcare system is facing an “existential crisis” in staffing as doctors and nurses are burnt out and leaving the profession in growing numbers, healthcare providers have warned.
They emphasised the NHS and private sector would need to “throw the kitchen sink” at the problem as having enough workers was now a bigger problem than dealing with the Covid pandemic.
Representatives from the Independent Healthcare Providers Network (IHPN) and a private London hospital laid bare the reality of the situation.
Speaking at the LaingBuisson Private Healthcare Summit, IHPN CEO David Hare explained the trade body’s monthly survey had revealed the severity of situation.
“During the core pandemic time, the focus was on the NHS contract and on support [for Covid],” he said.
“But in the last two or three months the single biggest issue by a long, long way is the workforce; concerns about sustainability, concerns about getting people in, domestic supply and so on.
“There are no easy answers to this issue at all, it’s a challenge that faces the whole of the healthcare system but it’s something that we’re going to have to try to tackle.
“We’re going to have to tackle it with the public sector as well and we’re going to have to throw the kitchen sink at it because it is an existential crisis to all of us working in healthcare.”
‘Challenge for the whole country’
This opinion was echoed by Satya Bhattacharya, consultant surgeon at The London Clinic, who revealed his hospital was already seeing the effects.
But he warned the situation was likely to get worse as clinicians were still planning their next moves.
“We’ve seen a lot of burnout – a lot of nurses have left after Covid, a lot of consultants have retired,” Bhattacharya said.
He added: “We have to face it because we have to run a hospital. The scale of the problem will become more apparent over the coming months because a lot of nurses and doctors are taking stock at the moment and wondering what to do next.
“But I think there will be an attrition rate and staff will be lost and we just have to think about how we make up for that. It’s a challenge for the whole sector and the whole country.”