Scotland’s lack of paediatric doctors is putting young people at risk, according to a new report by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH).
The report reveals that the paediatric workforce in Scotland is on the brink of a recruitment crisis.
The RCPCH has urged people to take action, as young people’s health is at 'significant' risk and the shortage could damage the health of future generations.
The current workforce allegedly needs to to expand by 25%, meaning at least 82 more consultant paediatricians, in order to deliver the required standards of care to children and young people.
The report recommends that NHS Education for Scotland (NES) develops a bespoke child health workforce strategy which includes a wide range of professionals such as doctors, midwives, nurses, pharmacists, health visitors and school nurses, and also that the Scottish Government maintain the 2019 uplift in the number of paediatric trainee places in Scotland.
“Tackling the shortage of paediatric doctors needs to be a priority," said Professor Steve Turner, officer for Scotland at the RCPCH said.
"We know that unless more doctors are trained to be paediatricians today, the situation where paediatric wards are being closed will only get worse. The good news is that we know that Scottish doctors want to train in paediatrics in Scotland, and there are three young doctors applying for each job. We also know that doctors who train in Scotland are highly likely to become consultants in Scotland.
“The need to increase trainee numbers in paediatrics has been recognised and we are grateful that eight additional posts will be available for 2019 – but this is a one-off “sticking plaster” which does not address the underlying problem. I urge the Scottish Government, NHS Education Scotland, and the Scottish Health Boards to reflect on our findings and seriously consider how best to implement our recommendations as a matter of urgency.”
General paediatricians are vital, as they look after children from birth to late adolescence, and are trained to manage multiple health problems ranging from life-threatening illnesses to chronic diseases.