RCoA Publishes 'The Anaesthetic Workforce: UK State of the Nation Report'
Yesterday the RCoA launched its latest publication The Anaesthetic Workforce: UK State of the Nation Report. The report sets out how the NHS is in dire need of more anaesthetists. Anaesthetists play a critical role across many NHS services and in perioperative care, and most operations require an anaesthetist to be present in order to take place. Unfortunately, across the UK, NHS services are at least 1,400 anaesthetists short, preventing 1 million operations from taking place per year and increasing expenditure on expensive agency locum staff. At a time of record NHS waiting lists it is vital that these shortages are addressed. Anaesthetists are a driving force in perioperative care.
Worryingly, the report also sets out new workforce projections that show the gap between the supply and demand of anaesthetists is set to grow dramatically. Unless urgent action is taken, the UK will be 11,000 anaesthetists short by 2040. This is due to a combination of rising demand due to factors such as a growing and aging population – and inadequate supply due to insufficient training places, and poor retention.
Key take home messages from the report are:
- most operations require an anaesthetist to be present in order to take place
- supply of anaesthetists is constrained by inadequate training places, an aging workforce, and poor retention – driven by issues such as pension taxation
- demand for healthcare services is rising due to factors such as the growing and ageing UK population
- unless urgent action is taken, the NHS will have a shortfall of 11,000 anaesthetic staff by 2040, which would prevent 8.25 million operations from taking place per year
- first steps to address the issue should be increasing anaesthetic training places and pension taxation reform.