BGS workforce data: 2016 summary

Fact sheet
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British Geriatrics Society
Date Published:
29 November 2018
Last updated: 
29 November 2018

The BGS works closely with the workforce team at RCP. Information on consultant numbers and other details such as projected retirements are  taken from the annual RCP survey, but unfortunately only around 50% of geriatricians respond to the survey invitation each year.

This page provides a summary of information from 2016.

Full responses were received from Wales and Northern Ireland.

One English region did not return the survey – London North and Central.

One Scottish region did not return the survey - Scotland East.

Posts filled and vacancy rates
  NTNs Vacancies Vacancy Rate
England 569 43 7%
Northern Ireland 17 0 0%
Scotland 71 7 14.3%
Wales 42 7 14.3%
  699 52 6.9%

The first survey in this format took place in June 2014, and vacancy rate at that time was 13%. This represents continued improved recruitment to geriatric medicine combined with low attrition rates throughout training.

It is vital that when talking about vacancies within the speciality, we only refer to posts that are genuinely unfilled, and not those where doctors are taking a break from speciality training for maternity leave, an OOPE, or working LTWT.

LTWT Working
England 438 76 14.8%
Northern Ireland 17 1 5.6%
Scotland 53 9 14.5%
Wales 33 9 21.4%
  541 95 15%

Of those doctors currently within the training programme, 15% work less than whole time. This proportion has remained stable over the past few years, but with the improved fill rates to the speciality actually means that greater numbers are training flexibly.

Time out of programme
  Academic OOPE Other OOPE Stroke OOPE Maternity Leave Illness/personal % OOP
England 12 27 11 41 2 16.3%
Northern Ireland 0 0 0 1 0 5.9%
Scotland 1 2 3 2 1 2.7%
Wales 0 2 0 9 0 26%
  13 31 14 53 3 16.3%

Generally, higher trainees in geriatric medicine are encouraged to take opportunities to gain additional experience which can have a significant impact on the service they are able to provide. The most common reason for time out of training is maternity leave, but anecdotally doctors who take maternity leave do still take other training opportunities available to them, in addition to working flexibly. This can extend a training programme from the standard 5 years to nearer 10.

Considering that most stroke medicine trainees come from the geriatric medicine programme, it should be of concern to that speciality that there are currently only 14 doctors undertaking the additional year in stroke medicine.

Small numbers need to take time from training for personal reasons.

Academic training in geriatric medicine

There are few academic training numbers in the speciality, and these are not well distributed.

15 in England, across 7 out of 16 regions and 3 in Scotland across 3 regions. No academic training is available in Wales or Northern Ireland.


There are no LATS in England, NI or Wales, and 5 remaining in Scotland.

CCTs and Dual Accreditation

1 academic trainee is single accrediting in Geriatric Medicine. Everyone else will obtain a dual CCT.

42 doctors achieved their CCT in the 6 months since the last survey, and nobody from a recognised training programme needed to enter the specialist register via the CESR route. Of these, 41 did not use their grace period. One doctor used 1 month of their grace period before starting a consultant post. An additional doctor has been allowed additional time to allow a further attempt at the SCE, but otherwise has fully completed their higher training.


Attrition from the training programme is consistently low, in contrast with the perception held by bodies such as HEE and NHSI.

During the 6 month period of this survey, 5 doctors left their regions:

1 to train in GU medicine

1 to train in palliative medicine

2 transferred to different regions, but remained within geriatric medicine

1 left medicine altogether

Therefore attrition for this time period was 0.4%


Comments provided by the TPDs remain consistent. Key messages include:

  • There is capacity to train more doctors if training numbers were available
  • Insufficient doctors are being trained to meet the demand for consultants in geriatric medicine
  • It is hard to fill gaps that occur due to OOPEs, maternity leave and flexible training, more so since the abolition of LATs. Over-recruitment is a potential solution to this.
  • More interview rounds are needed per year to fill vacancies. The second centralised round which takes place in London does not meet the needs of areas north of London.

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