Taking care of ourselves this winter

Monday 7 November 2022

Winter is always a difficult time for us in the NHS and this year will be no exception with persisting threats from COVID-19, decreased immunity to flu and a backlog of care needs created in the height of the pandemic, all on top of an increasingly aging population.

We surveyed RCR members through our insight panel to understand more about the issues facing our specialities’ going into this winter. The results showed that colleagues are really worried about the impact this winter will have on their patients, their colleagues and themselves. We cannot underestimate the effect this anxiety has on doctors who are always striving to improve care for patients. The knock on effect of this pressure can ultimately lead to more and more health workers leaving their professions, something we can scarcely afford to happen.

Rest assured, this crisis is not of your making and you can only do what you can do during this difficult period. The priority at this time must be looking after yourselves and colleagues. This will be my main concern in the coming months. Wellbeing and tackling burnout must be at the heart of our efforts this winter. So if you see a colleague acting differently to normal or if you catch yourself doing the same, take time to talk to one another. We are one team in the NHS.

Here at the college we are doing everything we can to champion our members issues and concerns to the four UK governments, health service leaders and lobby for a comprehensive workforce plan. It will be hard, but we are committed and our profession as a whole are all singing from the same hymn sheet. All we can do is continue to do what we do best, strive to look after our patients and do the best we can with whatever resources we have available whilst we at the RCR lobby for better.

The results of this survey bring home the challenge we face in not only our College’s specialities of clinical radiology and clinical oncology, but the whole medical profession. In the coming months and throughout my whole time as your president I will champion the work that must be done to build a workforce fit for the future. A fundamental part of that will be a sustainable workforce. Take care this winter and please know that the College’s door is always open.

Dr Kath Halliday, RCR President

Summary of insight panel results:

  • 96% of members are concerned that this will be the most difficult winter on record, with 78% saying they are highly concerned.
  • 54% said they feel unprepared for the increased pressure.
  • 93% said that patients will be waiting longer for a diagnosis this winter.
  • Nearly 70% of members told us they believed stage 1 and stage 2 cancer diagnoses would be negatively impacted this winter.
  • Over 60% told us that the compounding pressures this winter will lead to potentially preventable deaths.