Workforce census 2015 (published 2017)

This was the ninth biennial census produced by the RCPCH since 1999. It provided a snapshot of how trained and trainee paediatricians were working on 30 September 2015, and the structure of child health services in the UK.

The full report with all findings from this project can be downloaded below. Regional reports for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales can also be downloaded below.

Key findings

  • There has been continued growth in the paediatric consultant workforce – 7.5% between 2013 and 2015. However, there has been a 12.5% decline in specialty and associate specialist (SAS) doctors in the same period and vacancy rates have increased across all grades. The growth in consultant numbers is likely to be due to increased demand for consultant presence in hospitals and continued high vacancy levels.
  • For the first time, there are more female paediatric consultants than male. Across all grades, there are more women than men in the workforce; and 74% of paediatric trainees are female.
  • Paediatric services are heavily reliant on doctors trained outside of the UK; 6.2% graduated with their primary medical qualification in the EEA (outside UK) and 33.9% in the rest of the world.
  • Advanced nurse practitioners are now employed to working with children and young people in 60.3% of hospitals; however there has been little increase in the proportion working on paediatric medical rotas. Only 2.6% of units employ physicians’ associates to work with children and young people.
  • Across the UK, there has been a small reduction in the number of inpatient units, neonatal units and outpatient services. Paediatric emergency departments and short stay paediatric assessment units (SSPAUs) have increased in number since 2013.
  • 31.3% of inpatient units and 41.1% of neonatal units had to close to new admissions due to shortages of nurses and/or doctors in the year before the census date.
  • Recruitment is the biggest challenge facing paediatric services; 45% of all workforce and service pressures cited by respondents are related to recruitment across all sectors of the workforce, but in particular paediatric trainees.
  • The average number of doctors on tier 1 and tier 2 rotas continues to fall short of Facing the Future standards (2). Contrary to British Association for Perinatal Medicine standards (3), separate consultant rotas exist in only 92.6% of neonatal intensive care units, however there has been an improvement since 2013.
  • In Scotland, 71.4% of subspecialty services deliver planned work as part of a funded/managed clinical network; compared to 40.4% in England.
  • Despite an improvement since the 2013 census, 22.0% of organisations do not have a board level champion for child health services.