Paediatric workforce data and policy briefing

The medical workforce is high profile news. At least 752 more consultant paediatricians are needed in the UK. This briefing clarifies the current RCPCH position on workforce issues in paediatrics for members and stakeholders.
Last modified
15 November 2018
Table of contents

The following is an introduction to our State of Child Health short report series: Paediatric workforce data and policy briefing. This detailed report considers the level of demand of consultants, trainees and other members of the paediatric medical workforce. It examines models of care in paediatrics and development of careers in paediatrics. A copy of the full report can be downloaded below.

Key points

  • At least 752 whole time equivalent (WTE) more consultant paediatricians are required above the 3757 WTE in the UK in 2015.
  • ST1 recruitment needs to be frontloaded to cope with WTE attrition. To maintain the current proportion of trainees on the rota, and meet the 10 per rota standard, 465 trainees would be required in each year of level 1 training. This allows for a conservative participation rate of 90%.
  • An over production of paediatric certification of completion of training (CCT) holders is unlikely due to the work-life balance choices of doctors in paediatrics, current rota gaps, and the fact that 47% of licenced doctors in paediatrics are non-UK graduates.


The medical workforce is high profile news. Contributing factors have been the imposition of a new junior doctor contract on the basis that this was critical to the provision of seven day services (culminating in industrial action), staff shortages, major financial pressures on the NHS, and concern over the impact of the decision to leave the EU.

In paediatrics, recent years have seen rising hospital admissions, changes in the nature of childhood disease and the impact of stresses in primary care. In 2016, RCPCH highlighted increasing rota gaps in general paediatrics and neonatology, a higher proportion of unplanned cover provided by consultants, and a high level of concern among clinical directors about how their units would cope with workforce shortages.

In 2016, summarising a discussion at Council, the President of the College posed a series of questions to the College health policy, workforce, and training teams. This document provides answers to these questions, using data from a wide range of sources including selected results from the College Workforce Census 2015.

Because there are many uncertainties in the system, workforce planning needs to be constantly revisited and revised and it is our intention to review this briefing at regular intervals, taking into account changes that occur in all of the child health workforce and wider health workforce.