Dr Jo Mountfield, Vice President for Workforce and Professionalism at the RCOG discusses the findings of the new RCOG Workforce Report 2022.
Having a motivated, well-trained and adequately staffed workforce underpins all we do in our profession to provide the best quality care we can for women, patients and families.
What’s changed since the previous report?
Since the last RCOG workforce report in 2018, the O&G profession has faced many challenges, not least the unprecedented pressures that have resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic.
These challenges will remain as we endeavour to recover and restore services while coping with ongoing staff shortages. Alongside these workforce challenges, there have been gradual demographic changes to the UK population which are key in determining what services are needed and where.
We are seeing increasing levels of clinical complexity, driven by an aging population, and rising levels of obesity and medical complications. O&G has high rates of litigation and associated costs and there are growing expectations for consultant input in all areas of O&G care including extended presence on the delivery suite.
This report does not pretend to have all the answers to these multifactorial challenges, but gives an overview of where we are now whilst also looking firmly to the future and what we can achieve.
What the RCOG Workforce Report 2022 aims to do
The report has been a year in the making with contributions from women, our patients, doctors, midwives, managers, physician associates, and many more.
We started by exploring what our values are and how they underpin all that we want to achieve for our workforce. These values formed the three ‘golden threads’ that run throughout the report and unite us as a profession:
- Our dedication to delivering person-centred care
- Our recognition and respect for the diversity which exists within our own workforce and among the women we support
- Our continued commitment to embedding both personal and organisational learning in all that we do
There are five chapters to this report. It is a report to be dipped into, to look to for advice, and to emulate the best practice examples it contains.
In this section, we focus on the importance of ensuring that advanced and subspecialist training opportunities are tailored, both regionally and nationally, to predicted population requirements. We highlight the vital role of Specialty Doctors and Associate Specialists (SAS), Locally Employed and Medical Training Initiative (MTI) doctors in delivering O&G services and the pressing need to address attrition and rota gaps.
Supportive and learning cultures
We recognise the importance of meeting the physical, psychological and learning needs of the workforce in order to improve culture and ensure learning opportunities for all doctors. Co-production with women and involving families as equal partners are both key to building learning organisations and continually improving care.
We explore the array of options for doctors at all career stages and the potential benefits that these can bring to individuals, teams and organisations.
Remote and rural working
We explore the differences between the population and service needs when delivering O&G care in rural and remote settings.
We acknowledge the huge team of professionals who contribute to O&G care, and the need to think differently and develop models of care which transcend previously held ideas about hierarchies and role boundaries.
Through a multitude of real-life case studies, we hope this report will provide inspiration and an ongoing source of reference as to how our values can be implemented and ‘lived’ in our day-to-day work.
We encourage you to share this report more widely with your unit’s workforce planners, Directors of Midwifery and your unit managers. It may also be welcomed by CEOs, Medical directors, Maternity safety champions and board and help you raise awareness of the challenges and potential solutions to our workforce crisis.
The development of the workforce planning tool
Finally whilst acknowledging the impact that inadequate staffing can have on O&G services, in writing this report, we recognised the current limitations of our medical workforce planning.
We are currently working on a tool which will allow us to benchmark staffing nationally and enable us to determine what safe staffing looks like in our maternity services.
As part of this, a census will be sent to all clinical directors. The feedback received from this will enable us to bring the tool to life.
Along with the output of our workforce tool, this report will enable us to implement best practice, lobby with meaningful evidence for more staff, and deliver the high quality services that women, patients and families deserve and we all wish to work in.