“Improving the NHS workforce’s wellbeing” (Society, 19 June) has to be a priority if we are to retain staff across the NHS. Staff and employers should be praised and supported for introducing initiatives such as lunch clubs and flexible working. These may not seem significant at first glance, but as a practicing anaesthetist, I have seen first-hand how simple activities such as these can positively change the culture of a workplace and help hospitals and trusts keep hold of their staff. With large vacancies across the NHS, including 400 unfilled consultant anaesthetists posts, the stress of increasing workloads and high fatigue is a constant concern. I am pleased to see that the recruitment and retention of staff is a goal within the NHS long-term plan, but ultimately, we repeat our call for a national welfare and morale strategy for the NHS as it’s difficult to see how initiatives across a handful of hospitals can deliver noticeable change in staffing levels across the organisation.
Ravi Mahajan
President of the Royal College of Anaesthetists

While it is good to see organisations attempting to look after their staff, this is no substitute for a job that is enjoyable, doable and well supported. I took early retirement from a consultant post in part because it was less enjoyable than it used to be. The constraints of commissioning and contracts meant it was not easy to pursue or develop an area of interest outside those constraints. Services we had informally developed over the years fell by the wayside as staff were limited by how many contacts were the norm for a particular case, and by the difficulty of working across different provider trusts.

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While we cannot allow a free-for-all in the way we practice, being too restrictive not only limits patient options but also makes work boring and so less desirable. We all function better when we have a sense of control. Add in (as examples) the need to collect data which is rarely of clinical use but is a priority, changing shift patterns for junior doctors and the threat of gross negligence manslaughter, and a few pilates sessions may not be enough.
Dr Adam Moliver
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

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