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NHS could reach its threshold in next few years

The NHS will hit breaking point in the next few years, doctors' group the Federation of the Royal Colleges of Physicians has warned.


Increasing hospital admissions, fewer consultants and a European law restricting the maximum hours medical staff can work will stretch the NHS so much it "may reach breaking point within the next few years".


The Federation of the Royal Colleges of Physicians (RCP), which represents hospital doctors across the UK, says its latest census of members shows that the NHS is under stress, especially in specialties caring for very sick patients.


However the biggest weight is on the A&E departments with record numbers of people coming through. In the past year, attendances have risen by 5% in England to 20.5 million, the equivalent of 40% of the population making one trip in the year.


Of course you would hope that the increase in hospital patients would keep pace with a rise in hospital doctor numbers but this is not the case. Since 2004, the workforce has increased by 12% but the workload has gone up by 19%. This has been exacerbated by the introduction of European working time regulations, which limit doctors to a maximum 48-hour week.


Many hospital trusts are having to cut back on services and in some cases are shedding staff to balance their budgets.There are now fears that there will not be enough posts in future for doctors who are currently in the last couple of years of their training.


[quote top=Andrew Goddard, the RCP's director of medical workforce, said:] We have already seen a drop in the number of new posts being advertised in 2010, and although we have enough doctors in training, they need to have jobs.[/quote]