RCoA links low anaesthesia and intensive care medicine specialty fill rates to inadequate supply of trainees

In response to the publication of recruitment data for specialty training positions by Health Education England (HEE), Dr Liam Brennan, President of the Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCoA), said: 
“While the publication of HEE’s recruitment data shows that overall fill rates for specialty training are marginally up compared to last year, anaesthesia along with other specialties have had difficulty filling posts in parts of the UK for some time, with particularly low rates at intermediate level entry ST3 dropping to 90 percent. 
“At the RCoA, we believe that one of the fundamental causes of the consistent failure to fully recruit at ST3 is an inadequate supply of suitably qualified trainees. Consequently, there is a strong case for an increase of Core/ Acute Care Common Stem (ACCS) trainee posts in order to secure a sustainable anaesthesia and intensive care workforce but expansion of the training establishment for intensive care medicine must not be at the expense of a scarce anaesthesia supply. Not only will unfilled posts perpetuate the rota gaps highlighted in our 2015 Workforce Census, they will prevent hospitals from meeting growing patient need and, ultimately, may compromise patient safety.
“Anaesthesia is a popular first line career choice, consistently filling at entry (Core and ACCS) level. Interacting with two thirds of hospital in-patients, anaesthetists perform a vital role as perioperative physicians, ensuring that patient care is tailored to individual need to produce the best possible outcomes for patients.  While the HEE data may reveal some incremental rises in the number of trainee doctors taking up posts, it does not show the number of doctors who leave training later in their career. For the past few years, there has been consistent failure to fully recruit at ST3 and our internal recruitment data tells us that at 90 percent, fill rates for ST3 level recruitment are down from 93 percent in 2015. Fill rates for intensive care medicine are lower still at 89 percent, with other specialties experiencing similar challenges. 
“As a Medical Royal College, the RCoA is committed to addressing these workforce challenges and will continue to work closely with our regional representatives, focusing on geographical areas that are experiencing recruitment issues at ST3 level such as the East Midlands, Yorks & Humber, North East England and Northern Scotland. We are also working with HEE and the Scottish Health Boards at national and local level to support their recruitment and careers activities and to better understand the effect that unfilled posts will have on the existing workforce, particularly the impact on training.
“With anaesthetists possessing a unique and non-transferable skillset essential to maintaining core hospital services including surgery, maternity and intensive care, the RCoA will continue to promote anaesthesia, as a specialty that affords invaluable patient benefit and tremendous career satisfaction.”
Notes to editors:
For further information or to arrange interviews contact:
Gavin Dallas, RCoA Communications Manager
020 7092 1696 gdallas@rcoa.ac.uk
Mehdi Juma, RCoA Communications Officer
020 7092 1698 mjuma@rcoa.ac.uk
RCoA out of hours mobile: +44 (0) 7711 767377

05 August 2016