Rota compliance and vacancies - survey findings and recommendations

The introduction of the Working Time Directive (WTD) in gradual stages over the last few years has been a key driver for the RCPCH and other medical colleges to look closely at the issues around service delivery.
Last modified
21 January 2019

The RCPCH is fully committed to the European Working Time Directive. Our key aims are to develop safe and sustainable solutions for patients and to ensure that high standards of training are maintained.

As part of this, we monitor rota compliance with the WTD and rota vacancy rates through an annual survey. As a result of the findings, the College has developed a Rota Gaps Action Plan survey.

The following is the executive summary of our Paediatric Rota Gaps and Vacancies 2017 report which details findings of a survey carried out between January and April 2017. The full report as well as previous reports and press releases can be downloaded below.

This is the report of the seventh survey in the last seven years that the RCPCH has conducted to monitor rota vacancies and gaps and to assess rota compliance with Working Time Regulations (WTR). This data provides us with the opportunity to look at trends in terms of vacancy rates and compliance with WTR and to monitor the potential impact of service changes.

Since the full introduction of Working Time Regulations (WTR) took effect in 2009, the RCPCH has carried out regular winter surveys of compliance with the regulations and an assessment of the vacancies on paediatric and neonatal rotas in the UK. Vacancies and gaps, especially those at tier 2 (middle grade) continue to raise concern about the sustainability of services and to trainees’ wellbeing.

While the working time regulations are well established and our survey reports that compliance remains generally high, this report needs to consider other factors which influence service delivery in paediatrics and neonatology. Therefore the 2017 survey has been widened to include questions about the impact of the 2016 Junior Doctors’ Contract (in England), the imposition (in England) of caps on locum pay rates and the effect of winter pressures on services and staffing. This has provided us with a greater depth of qualitative data to support the statistical findings.