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Health committee launches inquiry into NHS staff burnout

MPs have launched an inquiry examining workforce burnout across the NHS and social care, and the system’s ability to manage staff stress amid increased pressures during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The House of Commons health and social care committee said it aims to produce a report showing the levels of staff needed in health and social care to tackle exhaustion and meet future challenges. 

The committee is calling for evidence on how workforce shortages impacted staff well-being and patient care during the pandemic and the areas that need to see recruitment most urgently. 

It is also asking for views on the Government’s current NHS workforce plans, which include 6,000 more doctors in general practice and 26,000 primary care professionals by 2024/25, and on the measures set out in last week’s NHS People Plan.

Jeremy Hunt, health and social care committee chair, said building this report will require ‘a rigorous assessment of the overall numbers that will be needed to deliver services over a 10-year period, and how many people we should be training in order to meet that target.’ 

‘It’s disappointing that the recently announced People Plan has not yet provided this,’ he added.

In the latest BMA tracker survey (9 July) of almost 2,000 GPs, 45% said they were facing work-related mental health issues, such as burnout, depression, anxiety or stress, with most attributing this to the pandemic. 

It comes as former health secretary Mr Hunt failed to realise a pledge to boost the GP workforce by 5,000 by 2020.

The latest figures revealed that there were 1,400 fewer FTE qualified GPs in March 2020 than there were when he made his pledge in September 2015.

Health Education England will invest in 250 extra foundation year two training posts to help expand ‘shortage specialties’ such as general practice in 2020/21, it has said.

HEE and NHS England announced the move in the new People Plan, which also said practices will be able to make use of salaried GPs who work flexibly across local areas via new ‘banks’ of doctors.