Focus on physicians: 2017–18 census (UK consultants and higher specialty trainees)

British Geriatrics Society
Date Published:
04 July 2018
Last updated: 
04 July 2018

The RCP launched the annual workforce census at our annual conference, Innovation in Medicine on Tuesday 26th June.

Please click here to go to the census webpage where you can download a copy of the report.

The Royal College of Physicians' annual census shows mounting concerns by consultant physicians, more than half of all consultant and two thirds of trainees reported frequent gaps in trainees' rotas.

The findings highlight the rising pressure under-staffing is having on doctors in all four nations and the dangerously long hours some are having to work. Issues with junior doctors are also evidenced, with trainees reporting a colleague calling in sick for up to half of all on-call shifts.

For the first time more than one in four trainees say that if they could turn back time, they would choose a medical job outside of the NHS. One in three queried whether they would choose medicine as a career at all.

It captures the views of 8,579 consultants and trainees and shows a modest increase in the number of female consultant physicians, taking the gender split to 36 per cent female and 64 per cent male across the whole profession.

Other high-level findings in the census include:

  • 45% of advertised consultant posts remain unfilled because of a lack of suitable applicants
  • Consultants and trainees are working around 10 per cent more than their contracted hours. This equates to trainees working an extra six weeks and consultants an extra month unpaid a year
  • Thirty-three per cent of the current consultant workforce are predicted to reach their intended retirement age in the next decade. Medical student places need doubling now to fill this and the gap left generally by doctors leaving the profession
  • satisfaction among consultants and trainees with working in general internal medicine remains significantly lower than with specialty-working
  • There were clear regional variations in reported job satisfaction. Consultants in Wales reported higher levels of enjoyment working in both their speciality and GIM than those in other regions

To coincide with the publication of the census we will formally launch our ‘ask’ to double the number of medical school places, as we set out in our response to HEEs draft workforce strategy consultation.


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