Responding to the Royal College of Physicians report ‘Underfunded, Underdoctored, Overstretched – the NHS in 2016’, the NHS Confederation, welcomed its strong focus on workforce, doctor numbers and urged further development in community settings rather than continual increases.

Dr Johnny Marshall, Director of Policy at the NHS Confederation said: “We look forward to working with the RCP and welcome its strong focus on developing the workforce. Their report represents an important contribution to the debate on the future of the NHS. Further growth in doctor numbers is currently necessary but it will become unaffordable if allowed to continue indefinitely – putting healthcare at risk. It must go hand in glove with developing new roles, such as that of Physician Associates and developing new models of care that are more in-tune with patients’ needs, such as moving services from hospital settings to community settings.

“If the RCP could expand its focus in one area, we believe it could further encourage the expansion of community services and better coordination between GPs, pharmacists and other local care – making it more fully aligned with patients’ needs. We must move care and treatment closer to people’s homes.

“It is helpful that the RCP explores areas like Community Education Provider Networks, which can help lay the groundwork for future training and ways of working. It’s important that such initiatives aren’t slowed down by finite resources being used-up on existing services.

We continue to urge all parts of the system, including local government and national bodies, to work hard to overcome barriers to necessary change.”