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Rapid response to:


Stop doctors from retiring to boost elective recovery workforce, says NHS England

BMJ 2022; 377 doi: (Published 06 May 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;377:o1145

Rapid Response:

“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”

Dear Editor,

“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark” - the bard remarked (1). I have read the news piece about NHS England wanting to stop doctors from retiring (2). When the “City” workers do well they get a bonus. After the effort of past two years, what did we get? A clap. But it is not just about the money. NHS England may be too far removed from the front lines. Doctors are leaving the NHS before the retirement age. Many of my friends and colleagues have left the profession they love and the relative financial security it offers. Why? The system is on the verge of collapse. People are tired, they are traumatised by the battlefield of the pandemic. The chronicity of under-resourcing is evident in the Ockenden Report that another article in the same issue of BMJ deals with (3). Dusting off a few senior clinicians, dragging them away from a well earned rest is not a solution. A solution is in reforming the work environment. Learn the lessons from the industry e.g. Google. Reform the attitudes, revitalise professionalism to allow people to flourish, innovate and inspire and move away from the production line of waiting lists. Failing that people will vote with their feet.

1. Shakespeare W. Hamlet. Act I, Scene 4.
2. Waters A. Stop doctors from retiring to boost elective recovery workforce, says NHS England. BMJ 2022; 377 doi:
3. Wilkinson E. Implementing Ockenden: What next for NHS maternity services?BMJ 2022;377:o1120

Competing interests: No competing interests

22 May 2022
Piotr Szawarski
Consultant in Intensive Care Medicine
Wexham Park Hospital
Wexham Park Hospital, Slough, UK