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Solutions to ease the strain on the NHS

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A new survey has revealed that doctors are struggling with rising demand on the NHS due to an aging population which is resulting in reduced safety of patients.

The Royal College of Physicians revealed that 64% of doctors believe in a deterioration of patient safety over the past year due to an increasing population and reduced workforce morale. Experts believe that urgent investigation is needed in order to reduce the effects on patients.

It emerged after the RCP NHS Reality Check Update 2018 which was completed by over 1,500 doctors across England, Wales and Northen Ireland. It revealed that 84 percent think the workforce is demoralised and 47 percent believe they administered lower-quality care over the past year which was 10 percent higher than last year. Eight in ten were worried about how safe the delivery of NHS care will be in the next twelve months following the immense pressure for doctors to take on such a large workload. 

One doctor responding to the survey said: "Staff simply cannot deliver what is expected of them under current circumstances. We are not robots. We are human beings with limits. I cried on my drive home because I am so frustrated and distraught at the substandard care we are delivering."

The point in which an issue becomes a crisis is when a large proportion of doctors are certain that many patients will suffer immensely because of it.

The importance of this comes from the fact tens of millions rely on the NHS and how much of a priority it should be made to improve. If demands are growing and the number of people aging in the UK is increasing, the answer is to make the NHS more resourced and equipped with staff and facilities.

The RCP drew up a list of recommendations such as making the UK more accessible to doctors from other countries and to reduce visa restrictions for the healthcare force. The Government has been called upon to the extent of the visa restrictions and the costs for treatment of foreign people. While the current laws are used to support immigrant control, it will contribute to making the NHS more functional with a larger workforce that will result in better quality care for patients.

Another solution was an increase in funding to meet with patient need, as well as demanding more investment in public health initiatives in response to increasing public demand. The findings were calculated after latest performance data showed just 76.9 percent of patients in major emergency departments are seen within four hours while bed occupancy last month stood at 95 per cent. Increased funding will lead to the NHS being faster and more reliant on by patients. Considering how serious many of the cases are and the effects of having slower and less attentive care, it is extremely important for more funding to be given in order to create a solution for the problem.

Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: "We have huge empathy with our hospital colleagues and we know GPs around the UK would echo their sentiments around increasing workload, and concerns for patient safety. Our NHS is operating under immense pressures and we're sure that everyone working in the health system can relate to this report one way or another. The combination of a depleted workforce, intense workforce and chronic underfunding has left our health service on the brink, putting both staff and patient well-being at risk. In general practice alone, our workload has risen by at least 16 per cent over the last seven years, but investment in our service has not risen at the same pace - something surgeries up and down the country are now feeling on a day-to-day basis."

The Government must contribute more funding in order to match the pace of demand, else the strain will be brought on both patients and staff who can't keep up with it. Increasing workers, facilities and support should be made a priority in terms of the number of people across the country that will be affected, as well as the progress in health restoration that it will bring. 

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