Support for exhausted doctors and regulatory reform should now be the top healthcare priorities for the Government, according to the Medical Defence Union (MDU).
It has called on re-appointed Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay to focus on three key priorities affecting medico-legal issues:
1. ‘Support an exhausted workforce: Study after study has demonstrated more doctors are suffering from burnout.
‘This is not good for them nor their patients. The Government must do more to support doctors and stop fatigue setting in.’
2. ‘Deliver modern healthcare professional regulation: Institute top to bottom reform of GMC regulation, which is too rigid and governed by outdated legislation.
3. ‘Get to grips with runaway clinical negligence costs: The costs of meeting future claims liabilities for the NHS in England now stands at £128bn.
The total budget for the NHS in 2022-23 is expected to be £155bn. This is not a sustainable situation and legal reform is desperately needed to rebalance the system.’
MDU chief executive Dr Matthew Lee said: ‘Doctors are working flat-out to care for their patients, in many cases to the detriment of their own health and well-being.
‘They deserve the support and resources needed to enable them to take regular breaks so that they can care for patients safely.
‘If they then face scrutiny by their regulator, the GMC, it can be truly devastating for them.
‘Doctors deserve a regulatory system that is proportionate, timely and fair. The legislation needed to modernise regulation was due to be introduced this year and was then delayed – it needs to be a top priority again.
‘Meanwhile, much needed funds could be retained in the NHS through legal reform of the system under which billions of pounds are leaving the NHS in clinical negligence claims.
‘If the Government wants to prove its commitment to the medical profession and to boost morale, we urge them to seriously consider our package of priorities.’