“Frightening” shortfall of 50,000 doctors for UK’s NHS this winter, healthcare staff ‘quit over the summer’ – BMA

(The Guardian) Number of medics in England fell further behind comparable EU countries over summer, as more consider quitting due to burnout.

The NHS may be unable to cope this winter because of a “frightening” shortfall of more than 50,000 doctors, the head of the British Medical Association has warned.

The number of medics in England has fallen further behind comparable European countries over the summer, ahead of what is predicted to be one of the worst winters in the 73-year history of the health service, Dr Chaand Nagpaul said.

“Winter is an incredibly difficult time for the health service,” he said. “With flu season on the horizon and even fewer staff this time round, it’s a total unknown as to how well our services will cope – if they even cope at all.”

England has a much lower doctor to population ratio than comparable EU countries, with just 2.8 doctors per 1,000 people, in comparison with an EU average of 3.7, according to the BMA. Its research in July said that meeting this average would mean scaling up by 31% – or an additional 49,162 full-time equivalent (FTE) doctors.

Now new data, revealed at the BMA’s annual representative meeting in London, suggests the crisis has worsened.

With more GPs and hospital doctors quitting over the summer, the shortage has risen to 50,191, according to the BMA. This reflects a loss of 919 doctors in primary care and 110 in secondary care over the last two months.

Yet more doctors are actively considering quitting in the coming months due to burnout and excessive workloads. “Alarm bells” should be ringing, Dr Nagpaul said.

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