RCPCH Member survey 2021 - findings

In autumn 2021 we invited all members to complete our survey to get your views on how the College should tackle key issues such as workforce shortages, climate change and paediatric recruitment. Find our key findings here, and scroll down to download the full report.
Last modified
17 January 2022

Response rate

The membership stood at 20,414 when we launched the survey. In total, 3,923 members began the survey, and 3,209 responses were submitted. The response rate of 16% is short of the target rate of 20% but does represent a 1% increase from the 2020 completion rate.

The average time taken to complete the survey was just over 15 minutes, which is three minutes longer than the average for the 2020 survey.

Membership satisfaction and benefits

Membership satisfaction decreased from 3.70 to 3.59 (out of a maximum of 5), which represents a statistically significant reduction and is slightly lower than the 2018 member survey score of 3.64.

Among career grades, the most notable decrease is from trainees, whose average score 3.8 to 3.5. However, the member benefits remain very similar to 2020, with Archives of Disease in Childhood and child protection resources rated highest. No member benefits rated significantly higher than 2020, but most were consistent with previous years. View charts in new tab


It is highly encouraging that members are most aware of our EDI work. It is perhaps unsurprising that members are least aware of the climate change and lifelong careers work, given that these projects are in their early stages.   

It is also encouraging that members are aware of the work we are doing to improve the curriculum through Progress+.

Climate change

As part of our commitment to improving child health, we recognise the threat that climate change poses to the health and wellbeing of children and young people, both now and in the future. This view is common across our membership, with 95% of members indicating that they think climate change is important for the health and wellbeing of children and young people. Despite this importance, only 3.5% said sustainability is frequently discussed in their departmental meetings, with 74% indicating it is rarely or never discussed.

Members also indicated that the three key barriers to making change to their practice to be more sustainable are lack of time to dedicate to making changes, lack of funding for projects/changes and lack of knowledge about how climate change affects paediatrics and child health.

This is useful information for our Climate Change Working Group to take forward and consider how we can encourage and support both paediatric departments and individual paediatricians to become more sustainable. We plan to repeat these questions in future member surveys and hope to see positive trends as a result of our planned activity

Equality, diversity and inclusion

In March 2021 we launched our new diversity monitoring form (log in), allowing us to collect valuable data on our members.

We took the opportunity to ask members in this survey whether we should be collecting and reporting other data - view chart in new tab


Although the most common response was ‘None of the above’, it is clear from the broader responses (and the free text suggestions) that many of you have strong views about data we could collect which would inform our efforts to be a more inclusive and diverse College. The member reference group which is supporting this work at the College will consider the findings and advise on whether we should expand our data collection activity in future. For now, the emphasis is firmly on maximising completion, so please do share your data on the diversity monitoring form.

Members told us that employers, along with peers and colleagues, can have the biggest positive influence on their experience of equality, diversity and inclusion. While we recognise that it’s important that RCPCH focuses on its own EDI projects (such as ensuring volunteers reflect the diversity of the overall membership), these findings help us to focus our efforts on wider influence of employers and individual behaviours.

We also asked members to choose one new EDI project for the College to prioritise this year, and you told us that surveying members on their EDI experiences including racism and bullying in the workplace is the most important thing. 

Careers and lifelong learning

It is excellent to see that almost 90% of members are satisfied with their career choice, but we recognise that members continue to face unprecedented challenges to meet rising demand.

We asked about the factors that are likely to influence members’ wellbeing at work - view chart in new tab



The College is acutely aware of the workforce shortage in community child health. Nearly 30% of members have considered, or would consider, a career in community child health, but the biggest factors in not choosing that career, according to the survey options selected, are ‘not enjoying the clinical area’ and ‘missing general paediatrics’. This means there are opportunities to correct this situation with Progress+, which evolves the way in which we train paediatricians of the future, helping to ensure that community attachments retain those interested.

We also wanted to know whether members have sufficient time to undertake research and quality improvement as part of their roles - view chart in new tab


Recruitment into paediatric training

Among UK members, nearly two-thirds are involved in undergraduate or foundation teaching, with 40% actively involved in both. Members also provided helpful insight into what opportunities are offered for medical students and foundation doctors to gain paediatric experience.

As part of our ongoing plan to maximise fill rates into the training programme, we will be actively working with medical schools and foundation programmes to improve access to paediatric placements. It is a slight concern that only 60% of workplaces offer placements to foundation doctors, given the critical exposure this can provide to foundation doctors choosing their future career. 

International members

International members indicated that access to online education and provision of international conferences and/or meetings would add most value to their membership.

It is encouraging to see this trend continue from the 2020 survey, as the College is actively working to deliver both those goals.

Global child health

Members remain extremely supportive of the College’s work in low-resource settings around the world - view chart in new tab


Members are also strongly supportive of Trusts/employers making it easier for clinicians to undertake global work as part of their careers. Four out of five (80%) of members would support their Trust (or NHS/DHSC) making global health work easier for UK clinicians to take up as part of their career.

RCPCH &Us - the voice of children and young people

It is brilliant to see that just over half of respondents (54%) are feeling ok or confident in involving children and young people to help design, deliver or contribute to decisions about services or areas of work.

Over the coming year, building on the success of the pilot Engagement Quality Improvement Programme that ran in summer 2021, we’ll be offering more training online and in person in 2022, as well as a new online QI module to support more members with this area of work. To find out more about the training in 2022, email and_us@rcpch.ac.uk.

We asked what topics you’d like to hear more about from a child and young person’s perspective, with the top three answers being:

  • Involving children and young people in services
  • Child and youth friendly services
  • Integrated services

RCPCH &Us projects have been leading the way in informing national policy and service design. Examples are the COVID-19 Book Club informing the vaccine programme and the NACAP and Epilepsy12 programmes winning awards for their involvement in supporting asthma and epilepsy care.

In upcoming months we will be working with children, young people, families and members to create voice briefings on these topics, and work with RCPCH &Us across a range of settings in hospitals and the communities to develop resources to support these topics. We will work with the RCPCH Ambassadors network to help advocacy for children and young people’s engagement in integrated services. If you are keen to get started now, download the Epilepsy12 Youth Advocates “clinic chat checklist”, a model for reviewing your service with patients.

About the respondents

Diversity monitoring and demographics

On gender: Sixty nine percent of survey respondents are women, compared with 64% of the overall membership, which suggests we still have work to do to ensure our survey data is representative of the overall membership. However, the percentage of female respondents increased by 1% from the 2020 survey, which suggests this survey offers a more representative dataset than the previous survey.

On disability: Seventeen percent of respondents indicated they have any physical or mental health conditions or illnesses lasting or expected to last for 12 months or more. This question was first asked in the diversity monitoring form, launched in March 2021, and the data collected so far is not sufficient for meaningful comparison.

On ethnicity: The ethnicity of respondents is consistent with the overall membership data from 2019, with white members slightly over-represented and Asian members slightly under-represented, as in the below chart. View chart in new tab


Career grade and working pattern

The chart below shows the different careers grades of survey respondents, compared to the overall membership. There was no material change in the demographics of respondents by career stage. View chart in new tab


The percentage of respondents working full time decreased notably from 2020, from 72% to 67%. This may be of particular interest to the Workforce Information team as they embark on the updated workforce census, if that reduction is mirrored across the whole paediatric workforce.  

Region and country

The percentage of respondents outside the UK reduced significantly from 25.9% in 2020 to 22% this year.  It is worth further investigation to understand why the proportion of overseas respondents has decreased by this amount in 12 months.  

The response rates from each of the devolved nations is consistent with the previous survey and the current demographics of the overall College membership.

What next?

Dr Liz Marder, who chairs the RCPCH membership committee, has written a blog on what the findings mean for the College, and she highlights how we’ll use these to deliver tangible change.