NHS trusts and health boards have been urged to “look favourably” on requests from clinicians applying for absence in order to undertake national work for the wider benefit of the country.
The chief medical officers of the four UK countries and the General Medical Council have written to trusts and boards about the issue, calling on them to support their staff to undertake such work.
“We hope you will regard such activity by your clinical staff as an investment in our health service”
Letter from CMOs
The call from the CMOs and regulators comes against a background of increasing pressure on staffing at local and regional levels, as providers struggle to fill rotas and control costs.
In a letter, they highlighted that bodies like the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and the Care Quality Commission used nurses and doctors in advisory role or as part of inspection teams.
“All rely heavily on senior members of the profession, doctors and other clinicians, for their expertise and experience in a variety of roles,” stated the letter, sent in June.
It noted that the part-time work these staff undertook alongside their clinical duties “contributes a great deal to the quality and safety of patient care”, as well as to education and service planning.
“We understand that in the current climate there is considerable pressure on local resources and that you will need to take account of that and ensure that contractual commitments are applied appropriately,” said the four CMOs in the letter to trust and board chairs.
“However, we hope you will regard such activity by your clinical staff as an investment in our health services and a reflection of the high standards in your organisation,” they said.
“We feel that you should make your employers aware of this letter of support”
They added: “The experience gained by these individuals should be of direct benefit to the unit in which they work. We would be grateful if you could bring this to the attention of the members of your board.”
Writing in support of the letter, senior members of the Resuscitation Council warned that it would be unable to deliver its courses without the time, dedication and enthusiasm of its instructors.
“We welcome and support the recent letter sent by the GMC, NHS England and the chief medical officers of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales that calls for employers to look favourably upon those applying for leave to undertake such work, said the council.
“We feel that you should make your employers aware of this letter of support, from these organisations and individuals, if you haven’t already done so,” it added in a statement.