rcpchThe Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) latest survey has revealed an increase in consultant given care to the UK’s infants, children and adolescents.

However, RCPCH's Rota Vacancies and Compliance Survey 2013 also raises concerns over the future sustainability of the services given the number of consultants still having to provide unplanned cover in some units.

Encouraging rise in paediatric general consultants 
One in 5 paediatric general consultants are working resident shifts, a 62% increase from two years ago, and a figure Dr Carol Ewing, Workforce Officer at RCPCH described as “encouraging”.

But nearly three-quarters of clinical directors remain concerned about how their service will cope in the next 6 months.

Other key findings included:
- Vacancy rates have increased in the last year, from 8% to 11%, and 60% of vacancies are filled by a locum
- 7% of units are still failing to adhere to the European Working Time Directive.
- Nearly a third of units have resident shift working consultants.
- Consultants provided unplanned cover in 37 of the responding units on average 1.8 times in the 4 weeks before the survey - a slight increase from the year before (1.6 times in 2011).  

'Can't ignore doctors' concerns'
Dr Ewing added: "We can't ignore the concerns of doctors about the future sustainability of services. We know demand on services is increasing and in order to deliver the safest possible care for children, they need to have a senior and timely opinion.

"In the short term we need to ensure that we fill rota vacancies with appropriately qualified staff and in the long term look seriously at how more care can be delivered outside the hospital setting, and that expertise isn't spread too thinly."