Responding to the General Medical Council’s report The State of medical education and practice: workforce report 2023, Dr Sarah Clarke, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said:
“This latest report from the GMC confirms what we said in our recent thought leadership paper, The shape of medicine: we are undeniably at a turning point for the NHS and the medical workforce.
“Most relevant to the RCP is the fact that rising numbers of doctors are moving away from the traditional training model. While this is partly to do with trainees not being able to find the training place they want in the area they want, we know from our work with HEE on the F3 phenomenon that there are many reasons why they are doing things differently.
“The prolonged period of high pressure the GMC identifies is one of those reasons. We agree with the GMC that we should respond to these changes positively and look forward to greater flexibility in medical training and careers. The RCP and its partners have a key role to play in making sure that doctors taking time away from training want to stick with medicine and still find their way to the specialist register.
“We are encouraged that the number of doctors joining the register is double the number leaving, although recognise that a greater number are working less-than-full-time than in the past. We have been highlighting this for years, and was one reason we kept calling for medical school places to be doubled and for workforce planning to be calculated on full-time equivalent rather than headcount. Embracing flexible working and opportunities to work flexibly are vital to improve workforce wellbeing and the retention of hardworking staff.
“Our focus now must be to make sure that current trainees and those joining the register stay in UK medicine. That is why we said in The shape of medicine that we need to look at the design and delivery of training, and are talking to our partner Royal Colleges of Physicians in Edinburgh and Glasgow about that as a matter of urgency. There is also much employers can do to improve their working lives, as we laid out in our paper on short- and medium-term solutions.”