The RCOG will continue to work closely with workforce planners and decision makers to address workforce challenges and ensure the profession has the correct number and skill mix to continue to deliver safe O&G services now and in the future.
A number of initiatives are also under way to better support and equip the profession to work within such a challenging environment; to safeguard the welfare of our doctors; to ensure satisfying job plans and career prospects; and, ultimately, to retain more highly skilled doctors within the specialty.
1. Welfare of the Workforce
The Welfare of the Workforce group, a sub-group of the RCOG’s Workforce Task Group, was set up to help the profession in terms of culture, job plans and career development. As well as assessing and confirming the current situation, the group has been developing guidance and recommendations (outlined above) to empower and support doctors to manage workforce challenges more effectively.
The group recently surveyed all O&G trainees to find out the proportion considering leaving the training programme and their reasons why. As a follow-up to the survey, the researchers have formed trainee focus groups in all 16 health education authorities in the UK to offer ideas for solutions to the issues that the survey has raised.
As well as the recommendations (outlined above) to ensure resident consultant roles are professionally satisfying, the group also recommends that resident working patterns continue to be assessed through data collection and audit and that the RCOG explore novel methods for assessing work intensity and out-of hours staffing levels in both O&G. Model job plans will be held at RCOG for units to look at and inform the creation of their own plans.
The group is also exploring how the College can help new consultants feel better supported, equipped and confident to carry out their roles, particularly the non-clinical aspects of their work. Ideas currently being explored include extending the reach of the RCOG’s annual Newly Appointed Consultants meeting by making more content available online. A number of new consultants have already taken the initiative of setting up online and local groups to act as peer-to-peer support networks. The RCOG will be raising awareness of such groups and providing support, in the form of a toolkit, to others also wishing to set up a local group.
Return to work
For those doctors who take time out of practice for maternity/paternity leave or out of programme experience, returning to the workplace can be a daunting prospect. It is essential that such individuals are up to date on the latest guidance and practices to ensure a seamless and satisfying transition back into work. The Welfare of the Workforce group is therefore exploring an accelerated return to work initiative (courses and web access) that will be available to doctors looking for support and information to get themselves back up to speed.
2. Future Models of Care
The Future Models of Care group, a sub-group of the RCOG’s Workforce Task Group, was set up to assess the workforce needed to deliver O&G services in the next 5-15 years, to propose different workforce models to attempt to mitigate gaps between supply and demand and to highlight the risks posed by identified gaps.
The group is working very closely with HEE to assess and model workforce demand, and is also developing a tool to assess acuity/intensity of O&G workload in a unit with the aim of using this to identify how many tiers of staff are needed.
3. Supporting Our Doctors
A Supporting Our Doctors Task Group has been established to prevent, minimise and manage workplace stress experienced by doctors. Outputs include a service to support doctors and their employers to manage more workplace conduct and practice challenges locally.
The group is working closely with the GMC to ensure fair, efficient and effective fitness to practice investigations that benefit both doctors and their patients. The group has also collaborated on guidance for doctors who receive notification from the GMC of a complaint against them, advising them of what to do next.
The group will also be providing support and information on how to manage workplace challenges and ensuring doctors are aware of all the support services and resources available to them, either from the College or further afield.