Workforce Planning

Workforce Planning

Accurate and up-to-date workforce data is essential to informing and influencing national workforce bodies, stakeholders and representing the current state of anaesthesia services in the UK. The College recognises that active participation on workforce issues is a vital part of our work in ensuring safe, high-quality patient care and training environments.

Principles of Workforce Planning

Workforce planning is about making sure we have the right people in the right place at the right time at a sustainable level now and in the future.  To do this we need to ensure that we have evidence based foundation in place based on key principles;

  • A strategic responsive and coordinated response to workforce planning
  • Modelling and plan for future workforce
  • Evidence based workforce planning which draws from reliable data
  • Include flexibility and sensible confidence limits

RCoA Strategy

As well as having enduring principles, we also recognise that the medical workforce is, more than ever, in the forefront of current affairs and the subject of political debate. Therefore we must have clear strategies to keep abreast in this complex area of workforce planning and share information to inform policy and decision makers.  This will include studies, research and surveys which will form the following;

Credible data and intelligence

  • Clarity of Position- Training Establishment
    • Need for increased Core/ACCS training numbers to help correct the shortfall at Specialty Training
    • Maintain Specialty Training numbers
    • Build ICM training establishment
  • Effective Engagement
    • National engagement
    • Specialty cohesion
    • Active support for effective local engagement
  • Improving trainee working patterns and gap management
  • Regional support and engagement events
  • Supporting active recruitment and retention

RCoA Role

As a College we have a clear understanding of the central role of anaesthesia and anaesthetists in the future of healthcare. Our work is focused on delivering that vision, in the UK and overseas.  One of the aims of this vision is to gather timely, accurate and locally-sourced data via regular workforce censuses and other data sources. These data will be used to influence the further development of the specialty, ensuring that workforce numbers and skills are delivered to meet the UK’s requirements. These include;

  • Various data sources Intelligence on demographic and societal issues, policy, strategic and tactical aspects, specialty specific issues.
  • Engagement with stakeholders through open, transparent communication for sharing of information and data with the view to inform and educate.

Workforce Advisory Group (WAG)

The RCoA’s Workforce Advisory Group (WAG) are central to the College’s activities in this area.  The WAG are responsible for ensuring that the College has the most accurate and up to date data, are decision makers in essential areas of workforce planning and provide advice and guidance to Council. The group is constituted from  college fellows and includes representation from other organisations, devolved nations and health organisations.

RCoA Sources of data

The college collects and analyses a range of data and information to help inform workforce bodies, stakeholders and areas of workforce.  The data includes information from;

RCoA Census, HEE Call for Evidence, CLW Rotamap, National Recruitment, CT/ST interface, Examination outcome data,CCT projections and choices, GMC Trainee Progression data, Retirement data, Advisory Appointments Committees and  BMJ Jobs, Survey data from devolved nations, CfWI in-depth review of Anaesthesia.

RCoA Work

The Centre for Workforce Intelligence
The College made a significant contribution to the Centre for Workforce Intelligence’s 2015 In-depth review of the anaesthetics and intensive care medicine workforce. The report highlighted concerns that the demand for anaesthesia and intensive care medicine (ICM) services could outstrip supply over the next 20 years, noting a need for growth of 4.7 percent per annum in both specialties.  It also recognises an existing unmet need of 15 percent for anaesthetics and 25 percent for ICM.

Call for Evidence To Health Education England
The College also jointly with the Association of Anaesthetist in Great Britain and Ireland (AAGBI) produced a comprehensive Call for Evidence report to Health Education England in 2014 and 2015 presenting the specialty perspective on anaesthesia workforce issues. The report recommends an increase in core training numbers, evidenced by unfilled ST3 posts and attrition rates. This process will continue to be used in order to provide information to fellows and members of the College involved in workforce planning.

College Anaesthesia Workforce Pack
Due to recent changes in the HEE workforce planning process the call for evidence will no longer be required from all medical colleges.  The College will regularly produce its own anaesthesia document which will provide data on the current state of the anaesthesia workforce. The workforce pack will be information provided to HEE to inform their workforce planning process.  The document will also be sent to all our College representatives should they wish to use in their local workforce planning meetings.

The College has produced its first workforce data pack 2016 which you can download here.

Medical Workforce Census 2015
Over the past few years, the College has built a strong evidence database and has received 100 percent response rates in previous censuses including the most recent Census 2015.

CCT Choices Survey
In December 2015 the College undertook a study of those who obtained their CCT in the last three years.  The aim of the study was to find out ‘where CCT holders are now?’, their career aspirations, life choices and their movement within the UK and abroad.  The results of the study showed that the main factors to why doctors chose their location and post was family, friends, better work life balance.  Similar factors also played a part in the reason why many those chose to move abroad. More findings from the survey can be found here.

SAS Survey
The RCoA recently carried out its first survey of Staff and Associate Specialist (SAS) doctors for which we would like to thank our SAS colleagues for taking part.

The interim results, released by the College in February 2017 will help us further understand and promote the interests of SAS colleagues within the healthcare system.

We are in the process of analysing the results, but for now these are some of the headline points;

  • 55% SAS doctors surveyed obtained their PMQ in non- EU Countries
  • Majority (63%) of SAS doctors are on a 'specialty doctor' type contract
  • 90% of SAS doctors have substantive posts
  • 47% chose to be an SAS doctor because of better work life balance
  • 87% have at least 1.0 SPA  in their job plan

A full report is being written and will be made available at the College’s 2017 Summer Symposium and College Tutor Meeting in June.

RCoA Engagement

An essential role in college workforce planning is effective engagement with medical and workforce organisations, stakeholders and college representatives. In terms of workforce planning it is important that we engage as a college on a national and local level. Our partner relationships include;

National Level

Local Level
Devolved Nations, Regional  Advisers, College Tutors, Training Programme Directors, Heads of Schools, Clinical Directors.

Problems with Disconnection

The College works closely with HEE in submitting the most up to date data on the anaesthetic workforce through our work on the census, national recruitment data, and various other data sources of information.  The information is available to all Local Education Training Boards (LETBs) via HEE.  It is important that accurate data is consistently filtered through these groups to ensure that informed decisions are made about the future workforce, however there is a  risk that a failure in this area could result in 'HEE commissioning too few places to train new staff' (National Audit Report, published 5 February 2016). LETBs and Trusts need to work with their local workforce planners to agree on what is required for the workforce.

Therefore the College is supportive of effective regional engagement and welcome your views, comments and contributions on improving this area of work; for example:

  • does your LETB engage with you on workforce planning?
  • can College support improve engagement process from Trusts to LETBs?
  • the importance of CTs, CDs, Linkmen being involved in workforce planning locally.

RCoA Challenges

  • Recruitment & retention of trainees –UK undersupply
  • Strong evidence for growth not translated into policy
  • Uncertainty:
    • 7 day service
    • New trainee contract
    • Financial constraints
    • ShoT- Possible reduction in training time
    • Ageing population and Ageing Consultant workforce
    • Retirement behaviours
    • Non-medical roles
  • Disconnect between views of profession, employers and workforce planners
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