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UK paediatrician study: Demand for part-time working on the rise, but concerns over availability of consultant posts

A growing number of paediatricians want to work part time and nearly a third of are concerned about securing consultant posts, according to a new workforce survey conducted by the .

The survey questioned a cohort of 446 trainees after 5 years of paediatric speciality training – and is the third study following those who started in 2007. It aims to assess the aspirations and progress of the group, feeding vital information into the process.

It reveals that in two years there has been a 10% increase in part time working amongst trainee paediatricians, with a fifth of those surveyed working less than full time. However, over half of trainees would like to work part time on completion of training – with 63% of women keen to do so.

The survey also showed that after 5 years of training nearly a third (29%) are not confident about obtaining a consultant post once they are qualified – significantly higher than the 13% who weren’t confident a year into training.

Dr Carol Ewing, Vice President for Health Policy at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said:

“Increasing numbers of trainees are looking to work part-time and we need to consider this demand in future workforce planning. Other key priorities are to ensure that we are training the right types of doctors for the wide range of services for children and young people, and particularly in community child health. We continue to work with the trainees on developing the best workforce models for consultant resident shift working and we are committed to developing a portfolio career approach for consultants

What’s concerning is that nearly a third of trainees don’t feel confident in obtaining consultant posts once they’re qualified – and we need to look closer as to why that is. Is it simply a lack of confidence or do people feel that there aren’t enough posts being made available during this period of austerity for the NHS?”

The survey also reveals:

  • 10% of respondents would like to work abroad on completion of training.
  • The recorded annual loss of trainees is 4.6%.
  • 8.2% of paediatric trainees plan to go into community child health, however 19.2% of the current consultant body work in this field.
  • 43.5% report having no protected teaching time, 10.7% have less than an hour per week, 19.5% have an hour, and 26.5% have more than an hour per week.
  • 78% of respondents said they felt well supported by their seniors on training and development.
  • 14.0% are currently out of programme, and 45.1% report having taken time out of training in the last 2 years.

Dr Dan Lumsden, Chair of the Trainees’ Committee at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said:

“It’s reassuring to see that the majority of trainees continue to feel well supported by colleagues when it comes to their training and development. However 2/5ths of trainees reported having no protected teaching time though. It’s essential that jobs plans for paediatricians of all grades provide sufficient time to ensure training needs are met.

“More work is needed to understand how our attrition rates compare with other specialities, and the reasons why a minority of trainees leave paediatric training each year. More support may be needed for some trainees to ensure we do not needlessly lose good doctors from the child health workforce.”


Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health