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2015–16 census (UK consultants and higher specialty trainees)

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

The census was conducted by the RCP’s Medical Workforce Unit (MWU) on behalf of the Federation of the Royal Colleges of Physicians. We sent the census electronically to all UK consultants and HSTs in post on 30 September 2015.

We independently verified consultant headcount by nation, specialty, and demographics by checking with specialty representatives, the GMC and with consultants’ work locations.

Data for HSTs were obtained from the Joint Royal Colleges of Physicians Training Board, and from an electronic census sent to all trainee physicians.

Headlines from the census

  • Fewer consultant jobs were advertised than reported in last year’s census and, of those available jobs, a smaller proportion were filled with suitable candidates.
  • The proportions of women in the consultant and trainee workforces have again increased (although there remains much specialty variation).
  • Less-than-full-time working has again increased, and is more common in those aged over 60.
  • There were reductions in physicians reporting (a) that they take care of general medical patients, and (b) that they participate in the acute take, when compared with last year’s census.
  • There was a slight increase in the proportion of consultants regularly working on call, out of hours: (a) for their specialty, (b) for unselected medical admissions or (c) for both.
  • More consultants reported rota gaps this year, with higher proportions of consultants reporting them ‘frequently’ and ‘often’.
  • There was an increase in the proportion of consultant physicians who reported ‘acting down’ regularly to cover trainee rota gaps.

To learn more please download Focus on Physicians, the Federation of Royal Colleges of Physicians’ census of consultant physicians and higher specialty trainees 2015–16 or investigate the census yourself with our helpful census data tools.

Get involved in the MWU’s work

The MWU will be undertaking some short surveys of representative portions of the workforce over the year. Our aim is not to survey any individual more than once (in addition to the main census) and to have a quicker turnaround so that we are more responsive to present-day and future challenges affecting the physician workforce (eg rota gaps, wellbeing and morale, etc).

If you would like to be involved in our work, please email us: mwucensus@rcplondon.ac.uk 

Please note that if you are planning to use the census data toolkits for further or secondary analysis, we request that you contact the Medical Workforce Unit team for support and further advice. Thank you.