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RCP policy: workforce

What we are doing

The RCP's members and fellows are treating more patients than ever before. It’s vitally important that the NHS workforce receives the investment, support and recognition required for sustainability and to provide the best patient outcomes.

The RCP is working with colleagues across the UK to represent the needs of the NHS workforce to a range of stakeholders including ministers, politicians and NHS bodies.

The RCP works on a broad range of workforce policy and ensures that the voices of our members and fellows are heard to ensure we are able to provide high-quality patient care.

Workforce numbers

  • Our Underfunded, underdoctored, overstretched and NHS reality check reports represent the views and experiences of the current and future NHS workforce.
  • Our annual census of consultant physicians and higher specialty trainees has been running for almost 25 years. By completing the census, doctors can contribute to the case we’re making.
  • As part of our campaign to create a sustainable workforce we recently published our Double or quits briefing, which sets out the need for a significant expansion of medical school places.

Morale and wellbeing


  • The RCP’s Future Hospital Programme has led to the creation of the chief registrar scheme, which establishes a new senior leadership role for trainee doctors.
  • We have supported the development of the Faculty of Physician Associates (FPA). Together, the RCP and the FPA have launched An employer’s guide to physician associates to help the introduction of the role in workforce strategy and planning.
  • After the review of postgraduate medical education and training, Shape of Training, conducted in 2015, resulted in a framework for delivering change to the current structure of postgraduate medical education, the RCP was pleased the report did not suggest a reduction in the number of years needed to train a doctor.

Medical Care

The online evolution of the well-known RCP publication Consultant physicians working with patients, Medical Care is a comprehensive web-based resource written by leading medical specialty experts and divided into two sections: designing services and developing physicians.

Stay updated

Follow @RCPLondon on Twitter to stay informed about what we are doing. You will also find the latest workforce policy news on our website.

What we have produced

Focus on Physicians 2018-19 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.

This RCP working party report describes the staffing that is needed to ensure safe, timely and effective medical care for patients in hospital.

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 census on the consultant physician and higher specialty trainee workforce in the UK. 

At the end of 2017, Health Education England, NHS England, NHS Improvement, Public Health England, the Care Quality Commission, NICE and the Department of Health published a draft health and care workforce strategy for consultation.

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has long argued that we need to rethink the way we deliver healthcare: breaking down barriers between hospitals and the community, and working in partnership with patients to deliver joined-up care.
The NHS is already understaffed and overstretched so the RCP seeks reassurance that doctors from the EU can remain in the UK and that the UK is an attractive place to work in future.
'NHS reality check: Update 2018' returns to last year's key report and once again gives over 1,500 doctors working in the NHS the chance to discuss their experiences of delivering care in the UK health service.
In November 2017 the president of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), Professor Jane Dacre, wrote to members and fellows to share some practical guidance for hospitals in the run-up to winter.
'Focus on physicians' is the 2016–17 census of the consultant physician and higher specialty trainee (HST) workforces in the UK.
This report explores the challenges that face the NHS from the perspective of junior doctors, and it is drawn directly from their experiences.
This report collates hospital doctors’ experiences of working in NHS hospitals between December 2016 and January 2017.

This report by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), entitled Work and wellbeing in the NHS: why staff health matters to patient care, sets out why it is in the best interests of both patients and NHS organisations for the health, wellbeing and engagement of the NHS workforce to be prio

This report focuses on developing the evidence base to support new ways of assessing and improving doctors’ morale.
The RCP’s response calls on the government to introduce a positive and welcoming migratory system for doctors to ensure a sustainable and safe NHS.
The RCP's consultation response to the UK government's proposal to expand undergraduate medical education.
These Tell us your story case studies are real-world examples of clinical services in the UK that run 7 days-a-week.