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Royal College open letter to MPs – our vision for health  

26 Jun 2024

As a College, we have set out key priorities for the next government which will be crucial to relieving pressure on the NHS and improving the health of our people and communities. 

The UK General election is fast approaching and we have now heard the main political parties set out their vision for the next government. At a time when the healthcare system is facing profound challenges, the forthcoming election is a critical moment for MPs to explain how to overcome these challenges, enhance services and improve health. 

As a College, we have set out key priorities for the next government which will be crucial to relieving pressure on the NHS and improving the health of our people and communities. 

  • Growing and retaining the NHS workforce 
  • Developing a robust policy to rebuild NHS dental services. 
  • Improving productivity across health services and reducing wait times 
  • Protecting the physical and mental wellbeing of NHS staff  
  • Tackling health inequalities and improving public health 
  • Tackling climate change by pushing forward our national transition to renewable energy and embedding sustainable practices within our health service.  
  • Ensuring appropriate scope of practice assessments are in place for newer healthcare professional roles, including Physician Associates and Medical Associate Professionals. 

NHS Workforce

Backlogs in the NHS across UK mean many are facing longer waits for treatment leading patients to become sicker and more complex. Failure to meet emergency care targets and long waits for an ambulance risk people losing faith in our ability to care for them in a life-threatening situation and the fear of ill health is returning. 

As a country, we rely on doctors working in the NHS today and those who will be joining the workforce in the near future to turn the tide. It is crucial that we emphasise their value and there is an urgent need to reflect this through policies that recognise their contributions, to recruit and retain a strong NHS workforce.  

With chronic short staffing affecting all areas of the NHS, recruitment of new doctors has never been more important. We call on the next government to fund the expansion of medical school places across the UK. However, to meet current need and plan for an influx of new doctors, this must also be met with a real commitment to increase the budget for training and an expansion of training places within the NHS to reduce bottlenecks in specialities with high demand. There must also be a focus on increasing speciality training opportunities in underserved areas and protecting time for trainees and clinical educators to engage in training.

Retention of experienced consultant level doctors, particularly those reaching the end of their career, is paramount to the delivery of training. We call on the next government to implement measures set out by the NHS workforce plan to address excessive workloads with transparent job planning and protecting time for necessary continued professional development, this will also boost the number of trainees moving to consultant level.  

Incentivisation for NHS dentists in their first years of practice, initially targeted in areas with the most clinical need. Urgently address wellbeing concerns that are driving practitioners into private care. Retention of NHS dentists prioritised to encourage practitioners to expand the service, with a reassessment of rates to ensure this is grown sustainably. 

It is also vital that those working in the NHS have access to robust IT systems and digital tools to improve efficiency, reducing time taken for administrative tasks and allowing for a greater focus on delivering care.  


Ensuring that we can provide the best care for our patients is a priority for all healthcare professionals. However, health care workers are a group in need of our care. Under immense pressure, doctors at all career levels are leaving the NHS at an alarming rate, as increasing workloads coupled with a high demand for services are leaving many overwhelmed and at risk of burnout, an experience which is being felt by doctors in training at increasingly junior levels than in previous years. 

It is vital for doctors at all levels, particularly those in training, that job planning is considered holistically with wellbeing at the core, with consideration given to the impact on personal health and family planning. We must also protect the wellbeing of NHS staff through a guaranteed support system. Earlier this year, following pressure from health organisations, NHS practitioner health was approved for a further twelve months for primary care. We call on the next government to continue to provide primary care clinicians with this service and expand this to include secondary care practitioners.  

Health inequalities

The UK is facing increasing gaps in health which have been growing over the last decade, exacerbated by recent the cost-of-living crisis, we call on the next government to consider the impact on health in all policies. Pressure on the NHS from increasingly complex patients presenting with multiple morbidities will be reduced by providing economic security to reduce the impact on poverty on public health. Further, community-based healthcare initiatives should be prioritised to ensure prevention and the delivery of care is tailored to suit local need.  

The UK is also facing a sharp rise in obesity, a trend which is growing worldwide. We can a be a world leader in addressing the obesity crisis by giving all the opportunity to lead healthier lives. We call on the next government to set out a robust strategy to address factors driving an increase of obesity and overweight. Our College houses Obesity Action Scotland, who have set out their manifesto for healthier weight – OAS manifesto.  


To protect our people and the planet, sustainability must be at the core of NHS service delivery. As one of the largest carbon producers in the UK, urgent action is needed to reduce the impact healthcare delivery is having on our environment. We call on the next government to push forward a national transition from fossil fuels to clean energy. This includes fossil fuel use within the NHS, with support in research and development of sustainability initiatives to embed these practices across service delivery.  

Our College is committed to working with MPs across the UK to stand up for the profession and promote healthier lives for all. This starts with making fundamental changes to policy which have health at its heart. As we welcome the next government on the anniversary of our NHS, we believe it is still an institution to be proud of, based on the hard work and dedication of its people to serve their communities. We look forward to working with policy makers to transform healthcare delivery and restore public confidence in our health service.  

Categories: Climate Change, College, Health Inequalities, Obesity, Wellbeing, Workforce

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Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
We are committed to standing up for equality, diversity and inclusion. We want our College to reflect the diversity in the NHS workforce and in the patients that we care for.
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Climate Change and Sustainability
Climate change has caused great harm to our planet and warnings of increasingly extreme heatwaves, droughts and flooding will all place a significant burden on our health outcomes.
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Health Inequalities
The health inequalities in our society have been both highlighted and exacerbated by the covid pandemic. There is a need to do things differently.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the lives of healthcare professionals, and the urgent need to learn whilemfocusing on delivering the best care for our patients has been an enormous challenge.
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