27 February 2013

The RCP’s 2011 census, which will be published in full on Monday 4 March, showed that consultant physician workforce expanded in 2011, but that the rate of expansion appears to be slowing. 

The census contains extensive data documenting the state of the consultant workforce in the UK. The two graphs found here show summaries of the expansion reported in the census. The first shows the total number of consultant physicians in the UK and the percentage year-on-year expansion rate from 1994‒2011; the second graph shows the year-on-year expansion for the various regions of the UK for 2001‒2011.

The graph above shows that the number of consultant physicians working in the UK increased from 11,225 (reported in the 2010 census) to 11,810 (reported in post during 2011). However, it also shows that the rate of expansion of hospital consultants has fallen considerably during the past two years from 10.2% in 2009 to 5.2% in 2011.

As the second graph (above) shows, when looked at from a devolved nation’s perspective, only England saw a reduction in the rate of expansion when compared with 2010. This may reflect the impact of national financial policy as well as local issues (eg Private Finance Initiative builds).

As the census shows in greater depth, acute medicine saw the largest expansion in both the total number of posts and of the percentage increase in posts since 2010 (accounting for nearly one-quarter of the total expansion reported by the census).

Some specialties have seen contractions in posts (eg allergy, nuclear medicine and audiovestibular medicine), whilst others have remained reasonably static or expanded by small amounts (eg genitourinary medicine, geriatric medicine).

Similar graphs and tables showing breakdowns by specialty and region, as well as analyses of flexible working, gender distribution, contracts, retirements, etc can be found in the census (published on Monday 4 March).