RCP survey highlights workload, morale, and patient safety concerns

Authors: Abi Rimmer 

Publication date:  16 Mar 2017

The Royal College of Physicians has published a report highlighting physicians’ concerns about high workloads, low staff morale, and risks to patient safety.

The report, launched on Thursday 16 March at the college’s annual conference in Manchester, includes the results of a survey of college members conducted online between 9 January and 3 February.[1]

Of the 2101 physicians who responded to the survey, 55% said that they believed that the safety of patients had deteriorated over the past 12 months, and 60% said that they experienced delays in transfers of care from their service. Nearly three quarters (74%) of respondents said that they were worried about the ability of their service to deliver safe care to patients in the next 12 months.

Overall, 82% of physicians who responded said that they believed that the workforce was demoralised, and 84% said that they were experiencing staff shortages across their team. Less than half of physicians (47%) said that they believed that doctors in their trust were confident about speaking up about concerns.

In its report the college said that the UK needed to invest in and value its healthcare workforce by ensuring that enough doctors were being trained. It argued that workloads needed to be balanced and realigned across the medical workforce and that trainees should be incentivised to work in acute care and general medicine.

The college also called for realistic targets for NHS efficiency savings and for investment in the long term sustainability of the NHS and social care. The report said, “We need a significant increase in investment in social care, specifically better step-down provision to facilitate patients’ transition out of hospital into community or other care settings.

“[We need] to allow time in job plans for physicians to build links across teams and settings, and to collaborate and innovate, [and we need] to ensure that sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) reflect current need as well as future aspirations, with doctors contributing to future planning through their local STP.”


  1. Royal College of Physicians. NHS reality check: delivering care under pressure. 2017. [Link] .

Abi Rimmer BMJ Careers


Cite this as BMJ Careers ; doi: