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December 2020 – follow-up report

In response to concerns raised about the mandatory redeployment of O&G staff outside of maternity services in acute trusts, in June the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) carried out a survey, inviting UK trainees, associates, members and fellows to feedback on their experiences of staffing changes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A key recommendation of the June 2020 report was for the College to escalate these findings to the Medical Director of NHS England and Chief Executive Officers of Trusts and Boards, asking them to reconsider the redeployment of staff away from essential maternity services – this was completed in June 2020.

To assess whether the service responded to these concerns, the College undertook a follow-up survey through October and November, asking units about the support available for staff during the pandemic. The survey also looked at the issue of elective gynaecology provision which was severely affected in the first wave, as well as the ability for O&G trainees to undertake crucial gynaecological training.

While there are some encouraging findings regarding staff returning to maternity care, and some examples of good practice in terms of staff support, it is vital that we continue to raise the ongoing concerns articulated by our members about the impact of the pandemic on service provision and training opportunities.

The report offers actions and recommendations based on the survey findings to inform future decision making in this area.