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.
Every year the Royal College of Physicians of London (RCP) conducts a consultant and higher specialty trainee (HST) census on behalf of the Federation of the Royal Colleges of Physicians with the aim of providing robust data on the state of the physician workforce in the UK. In conjunction with other data – such as our 2018 wellbeing survey – the census data help us plan for the future.
This is particularly important in 2018 as Health Education England (HEE) and its partners develop a 10-year health and care workforce strategy for England.
The census revealed continuing pressure on the medical workforce and the systems in which we work. This pressure is demonstrated by ongoing problems with rota gaps, unfilled posts and high levels of reported sickness absence:
The data demonstrate a mixed picture in terms of the consultant and trainee experience of general internal medicine (GIM). Satisfaction among consultants and trainees with working or training in GIM remains significantly lower than satisfaction with their specialty, but there have been modest improvements in job satisfaction in GIM for trainees since last year:
However, 59% of trainees would not train in GIM if they had their training period again, compared to 58% last year. A worrying 27% of trainees reported that if they could turn back time, they would take a medical job outside the NHS and 31% a job outside medicine. The reason for the dissatisfaction was made clear when we asked trainees what would improve the quality of their GIM training. 87% said no rota gaps, 82% a better balance between service and training, and 72% protected time for professional development.
Reducing rota gaps and filling vacant posts is vital if we are to realise the Shape of Training’s vision of more doctors with general medical skills
The pressure all physicians are under, as demonstrated by these findings and in the RCP NHS reality check reports, appears to be the main factor behind these negative experiences documented by the 8,579 doctors who contributed to this year’s census. Reducing rota gaps and filling vacant posts is vital if we are to realise the Shape of Training’s vision of more doctors with general medical skills.
We will use the data in our discussions with government about the current pressures on the NHS. In particular, the data support our response to the workforce strategy consultation in which we called for: