Increase paediatric trainee numbers to meet workforce shortfall, says Royal College

Authors: Abi Rimmer 

Publication date:  27 Apr 2017

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) has called for an increase in training numbers to meet a shortfall in the paediatric workforce.

On 27 April the college published its report The State of Child Health: The Paediatric Workforce. It called on the government to fund 465 more paediatrics training places in each year for the next five years to expand the consultant workforce by 752 doctors.

“Numbers have failed to keep pace with patient numbers, leading to dangerous pressure on an already stretched service,” the report said.

The RCPCH report also asked for paediatrics to be placed on the official list of occupations for which there are not enough UK workers to fill vacancies. It said that the government should provide immediate reassurance to EU nationals working in the NHS. There is “great uncertainty around immigration status and terms and conditions of employment for non-UK nationals, arising as a result of the decision by the UK to exit the EU,” the report said.

The report was based on data from the RCPCH’s 2015 workforce census, with additional data from the Office of National Statistics and the RCPCH trainee recruitment processes.

It said that there were currently around 240 whole time equivalent job vacancies in paediatrics. The number of applicants for the first year of specialty training (ST1) in paediatrics fell from 800 in 2015, to 743 in 2016, and 580 in 2017 with a similar number of places available in each year.

In 2017 recruitment into ST1 posts following the first interview round resulted in an overall fill rate of 83%. This poor fill rate meant that the RCPCH had to re-advertise ST1 posts and run a second round of interviews for the first time ever. The number of applicants who were EU graduates declined from 97 in 2015 to 41 in 2017.

Commenting on the report’s findings Neena Modi, president of the RCPCH, said, “The facts speak for themselves: the situation is serious. There simply aren’t enough doctors to meet the needs of infants, children, and young people, and advance their healthcare through clinical research.”

She added, “There is great uncertainty around the immigration status and terms and conditions of employment for non-UK nationals working in the NHS. These colleagues are a valued and crucial component of the UK child health workforce and a simple assurance that their right to work in the UK will be protected, and their conditions secured, would be immeasurably helpful.”

Abi Rimmer BMJ Careers

Cite this as BMJ Careers ; doi: