Most doctors not involved in winter planning, new poll finds

LESS than a third of doctors have been asked to help plan for winter, despite last year being one of the worst on record.

A new poll carried out by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) found only 29 per cent of respondents had been involved in planning. As a result, more than half (56 per cent) said they were worried or very worried about the ability of their service to deliver safe patient care this winter, with only 17 per cent saying they were confident or very confident.

The poll of UK foundation doctors, trainees, consultants and SAS doctors, conducted from 14 to 21 November, also found that doctors didn't know how emergency funding for social care will help. Only 66 of the 1,737 respondents said they knew how it would be used to reduce the pressure on their hospital, from providing beds in the community to employing more carers.

RCP president Professor Andrew Goddard acknowledged that winter planning had improved on last year, but urged trusts to share plans more widely. "We urge trusts to take this opportunity to share their plans with staff now, and adapt them where possible based on feedback from the frontline," he said.

"We need to feel confident that these plans are in place so we can get on with the job of providing direct clinical care. When we’re concerned that the wheels could fall off any moment, the pressure goes up and morale goes down."

Emma Vaux, RCP vice president for education and training, added: "As consultants, we have a responsibility to find out about winter plans where we work. We need to know what they mean for our trainees, both those we’re already working with and those who may move to help shore up services."