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In response to the NHS Health and Care Bill, BSR President Dr Sanjeev Patel has written to Health Secretary Sajid Javid MP and Jeremy Hunt MP, chair of the Health and Social Care Select Committee, to highlight the crisis facing the rheumatology workforce and to ask them to urgently take forward our report recommendations around chronic workforce shortages and high vacancy rates.

The Bill, as currently drafted, proposes assessing and reporting every five years on how workforce needs are being met. It fails to give workforce targets or suggestions for reshaping the multidisciplinary team (MDT). This falls short of our recommendations for sustainable planning, as evidenced in our newly-released report Rheumatology workforce: a crisis in numbers, which proposes a new workforce standard (what a rheumatology MDT must look like), leading to better health outcomes as unacceptable referral waiting times decrease.

Dr Patel says: “Assessing the workforce by 2026 doesn’t help rheumatology practitioners 14 months into a global pandemic. The bill fails to tackle chronic staff shortages in health and care services; we need a constructive debate on domestic and international recruitment needs and sustainable holistic workforce planning in the NHS. We need UK parliaments and policy makers to act now, before this crisis cripples our nation.

Our CEO Ali Rivett added: “To carry out a five-yearly workforce assessment, NHS England and Health Education England need workforce data. We have this for rheumatology already thanks to our report.

“The community has given everything over the past 14 months – it’s time they’re repaid. We simply can’t wait five years for this. We’ll work with parliamentarians and other partners to urgently address the issues our members face today.”

Read our letters