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RCOG statement in response to new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care speech and priorities

News 20 July 2018

Today the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matthew Hancock, has made a speech on his priorities for the NHS.

Commenting in response, Professor Mary-Ann Lumsden, Senior Vice President for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said:

"The RCOG welcomes the new Secretary of State Matthew Hancock’s focus on the vital role that staff experience has on the quality of care that women receive from the NHS and the retention of the workforce.

"The drive to tackle the issue of low morale in the NHS is crucial. Obstetrics and Gynaecology is experiencing a high rate of attrition amongst trainees, which it estimates to be approximately 30%, caused in part by poor work-life balance and leading to difficulties in fulfilling rotas.

"Obstetrics and Gynaecology is one of the most diverse specialties, with 55% coming from overseas and over half are female. We welcome the commitment by the Secretary of State for greater diversity in leadership positions of the NHS. We also support the need for a diverse and inclusive workplace culture and also the recognition that doctors joining to train or develop their careers from overseas offer a significant contribution.

"Providers, policymakers, politicians, NHS leaders, royal colleges, regulators and commissioners must all work together to improve the experience and retention of staff. A good example is the RCOG’s collaboration with the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh to improve the confidence of leaders and managers to address workplace bullying and undermining. This includes the development of Workplace Champions.

"The commitment to adopting a change in culture offers an important opportunity to properly recognise the contribution that Specialist and Associate Specialists (SAS) and Trust doctors make to the NHS. SAS doctors constitute a large component of our workforce and need opportunities for career development."


Notes to editors

For media enquiries, please contact the RCOG press office on 020 7045 6773 or email 

The RCOG remains committed to improving women’s health, and a strong and sustainable workforce is critical to achieving this. A report, published in December 2017, outlines the challenges facing the O&G profession and the commitments the College is making to address them. It shows that the O&G field has an attrition rate close to 30%.

The National Maternity and Perinatal Audit (NMPA) Organisational Report found that 9 out of 10 units reported gaps in obstetric units.

The RCOG has made recommendations that address how units can have medical staff available at all times in an era of changing working patterns, reduced trainee availability and financial constraints. This work is being developed further in collaboration with Health Education England, the Royal College of Midwives, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and the Royal College of Nursing.

Royal Colleges and Faculty statement on workforce strategy for England

RCOG/RCM bullying and undermining toolkit

About the RCOG
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is a medical charity that champions the provision of high quality women’s healthcare in the UK and beyond. It is dedicated to encouraging the study and advancing the science and practice of obstetrics and gynaecology. It does this through postgraduate medical education and training and the publication of clinical guidelines and reports on aspects of the specialty and service provision.