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RCP consultant census shows workforce pressures persist

RCP publishes its latest census of consultants across the UK.

Close to half (43%) of advertised senior doctor posts in England and Wales were unfilled due to a lack of suitable applicants, according to the RCP’s UK-wide annual census of doctors conducted with the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow.

Conducted between 30 September–31 December 2019, the census reveals the continuing pressures on the medical workforce and the systems in which doctors were working prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of consultant posts needed continues to significantly outnumber supply.

The census also revealed that 1 in 5 consultants (20%) have experienced bullying or harassment, and that a quarter of them (25%) have witnessed it. This was more common among female consultants.

Consultants of black, Asian and minority ethnic origin (BAME) were twice as likely to experience discrimination as white consultants, and female consultants were twice as likely to experience discrimination as male consultants.

The pressure that physicians are under appears to be the main factor behind the negative experiences documented by the census., with consultants estimating they work 10% more than they are contracted to do, mainly due to their clinical workload.

The RCP will use the census data in discussions with government and stakeholders about the long-term pressures on the NHS and their impact on staff wellbeing, including working with the NHS in England to help develop the People Plan that supports its Long Term Plan.

We will also continue to make our call for all medical school places to be doubled to 15,000 per year and will publish a report on the feasibility of such an expansion.

More on the census can be found in the latest edition of Commentary magazine. Further details are also available here.