Log In

Happy birthday, NHS?

So the NHS is 75 this week. But medicine is 2,500 years old and was first taught under this tree by Hippocrates on the Greek island of Kos. I was proud to take both my children who are junior doctors to stand under that tree with me and remind them what a privilege it is to join the profession. They have both been through the hardest selection process outside NASA, they both studied long and hard for years, they both caught COVID while serving the NHS, they both have £50,000 of student debt, they are both looking for work outside the NHS.


Well, when I bought my first house as a junior doctor it cost 1.5 times my annual salary. Now it will cost my kids more like six times their annual salary.

So, it’s about money?

Well, yes but not entirely. It’s about how doctors feel right now. This from the family WhatsApp group “Cus its just pointless getting shouted at all day by unsatisfied people in a job that doesn’t respect you when you can easily go and get a better one.” It’s about job satisfaction and being able to do the job to your own, and crucially, the patient’s satisfaction. We are in crisis.

The NHS didn’t have birthdays when I started medical school in 1980. The state paid my tuition fees, my living expenses and after I qualified, it provided me with hospital accommodation while I saved the deposit for a house. The NHS owned me and I was happy that it did. Things are now very different.

As a 75th birthday present the NHS now has a 151-page Long Term Workforce Plan. And I have read it.

Short version: it's going to take years.

Unfortunately, we don’t have years to try and keep my kids from leaving the NHS.

The only game in town right now is making doctors feel better about their jobs and that means making sure that people have do-able, satisfying jobs. We have had consultant job planning for 20 years now but it has become a tick box exercise that often doesn’t match demand and capacity.

With this in mind, and being aware that Medical Managers often don’t have time to do proper team job planning, we at SARD have developed a Workforce Optimisation Service. This service, fuelled by SARD systems and our Medical Workforce experts, is designed to provide trusts with the capacity and expertise needed to produce demand based Job Plans, putting doctors where they want to be; which is where they are most needed. We provide services including a full diagnostic of current Job Plans, conducting a complete Team Job Planning exercise with demand data, and furnishing trust leads with all the essential outputs needed to make informed decisions.

If you agree that we need to act now to improve the way we use our diminishing medical resources then drop us a line and we’ll do meaningful job planning for you and give you the tools to keep doing it long term.

Prof Joe McDonald, SARD Medical Director