Census of consultant physicians and higher specialty trainees in the UK

The census of consultant physicians is an annual project, conducted by the Royal College of Physicians of London (RCP) on behalf of the Federation of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of the UK, that collects data about the consultant physician workforce.

What we are doing

The census provides essential information for all our workforce planning and surrounding strategy. Census findings are used as a historical record of the consultant workforce as well as a source of evidence for future Federation of Royal Colleges of Physicians’ policy.

Results from the census are also used by specialty societies and external agencies such as Health Education England, the Centre for Workforce Intelligence and the National Audit Office. Since 2006, the RCP has also included registrar data in this report taken from an annual Higher Specialty Trainee census and the JRCPTB database.

Key questions

The key questions asked in the census can be broadly broken down into the following categories:

  • consultant numbers
  • appointment of consultants
  • demography
  • retirement intentions and employment prospects
  • gender of the consultant physician workforce
  • time worked and contracted
  • on-call commitments
  • appraisal and study leave
  • quality of care and job satisfaction.

The census is a flexible document which also allows us to focus on contemporary and important issues, such as out-of-hours and 7-day working. Furthermore, it collects data for individual specialties. As the methodology and software used to collect these data have become increasingly sophisticated over time, we have been able to understand demographic changes and working patterns within the many medical specialties.

What we have produced

How to use the data tools for 'Focus on physicians', the 2017–18 census of UK consultants and higher specialty trainees.

Focus on Physicians 2017-18 is the Royal College of Physicians, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow’s most recent census on the consultant physician and higher specialty trainee workforce in the UK. 

'Focus on physicians' is the 2016–17 census of the consultant physician and higher specialty trainee (HST) workforces in the UK.

Focus on Physicians is the 2015–16 census of the consultant physician and higher specialty trainee (HST) workforces in the UK.

This is the 2014–15 census and survey of the consultant and higher specialty trainee (HST) physician workforce of the UK. The census of consultant physicians has now been running for over 20 years, and the census of HSTs has been running for 8 years. 

This report summarises the findings of the 2013–14 census for the UK and assesses the implications for the medical profession and the NHS.