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'We cannot underestimate the extent of the work that still lies ahead for the NHS workforce' RCP Cymru Wales comment

In response to today’s BBC Wales story that waiting lists could grow longer as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Dr Olwen Williams, the Royal College of Physicians’ vice president for Wales said:


‘Unfortunately, it was inevitable that waiting times would increase during the pandemic. Even though NHS staff have worked above and beyond, the impact on services has been huge. In fact, earlier this year we asked RCP members across the UK how long they thought it would take for the NHS to get back on an ‘even keel’1. 98% thought at least 6 months, 70% said over a year, and 39% more than 18 months2, so Dr Goodall’s comments reflect the experience of doctors on the front line.


‘However, it’s time to move forward. We need to take this opportunity to adapt and redesign the way we provide care, with better use of new technologies, investment in innovative preventative and community medicine, and much wider patient involvement in decision-making.  


‘We cannot underestimate the extent of the work that still lies ahead for the NHS workforce. Doctors and their clinical colleagues are tired, and they are doing their best to keep up with demand, but we will need the ongoing support of NHS Wales and the Welsh government to get services back on an even keel. We also need to be honest with patients that things will take longer and that we are working as hard as possible to restore services to pre-pandemic levels.’


1 Defined as ‘backlogs managed and services stabilised to a “new normal”’

2 The RCP conducted an internal survey of its Medical Specialty Board which includes representatives from our 30 specialties. Each member of the board was asked to provide a response on behalf of their specialty. There was a response rate of 19 specialties. Survey results released 30 June 2020.


About the Royal College of Physicians

Everything we do at the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) is aimed at improving patient care and reducing  illness. We are patient centred and clinically led, driving improvement in the diagnosis of disease, the care of individual patients and the health of the whole population, both in the UK and around the world. Our 39,000 (including 1,400 in Wales) members work in hospitals and the community across 30 different medical specialties and range from medical students to retired doctors. The RCP is the oldest medical college in England and Wales.