Medical Workforce Census 2015

A workforce Census for anaesthesia in the NHS is a key aspect of the Royal College of Anaesthetists work, and is more important in a time of change within the current health system. The current and future constraints to NHS funding, an ageing medical workforce, gaps in rotas and the new junior contract impact and shape the current state of the workforce.

The College believes there is an expanding requirement for career grade anaesthetists, both to cover existing areas of service provision and to also ensure our specialty meets the increasing demands of an ageing population and more complex surgical procedures. In addition, we do not believe that any organisation in the UK has a clear and current picture of the size and shape of the anaesthetic workforce; we see it as a College duty to provide this.  In discussions with national workforce organisations, it has become clear that College census data provides the most current and accurate reflection of anaesthetist numbers across the UK.

Why Census 2015?
As the last College census was carried six years ago, we needed more robust and current data.  This new data will be essential for the strategic planning of anaesthetic activities across the UK.

About Census 2015
In 2015, the College Workforce Advisory Group (WAG) devised and carried out a census of the current anaesthetic workforce, to ensure that the College is optimally placed to contribute to future workforce planning.  The census was sent out to all anaesthetic departments within the UK.

Census 2015 and 100% returns
The College received key data from every anaesthetic department across the UK and was proud to achieve 100% returns in record time. Collating 100% returns is outstanding and strengthens the College’s position in its discussions with national workforce bodies and provides for more valid data.

Main Findings
Some of the main findings are:

  • 7,422 consultants within the UK (7,439 including those from Crown dependencies).
  • Male Proportion of Consultants 68%.
  • Female Proportion of Consultants 32%.
  • 2,033 SAS and Trust Grade doctors within the UK (2,047 including the Crown dependencies)
  • SAS Contribution to Anaesthetic Workforce 21.6%.
  • 8% expansion in the total number of consultants between 2010 and 2015, 28% increase over the same period in the number of consultants aged between 50 and 59 years, indicating an ageing consultant population.
  • In the UK 4.4% of consultant posts and 11% of SAS and trust-grade doctor posts are vacant 
  • 70% of departments have to cover gaps in the trainee/SAS rotas more frequently than once a week, with 19% needing to do so every day.
  • 98% of respondents said they use internal locums, almost three-quarters (74%) use external locums and nearly half (48%) use consultants ‘acting down’.

The full report and findings can be downloaded below.

Should you have any queries regarding Census 2015, please e-mail Afsana Choudhury or telephone 020 7092 1652.