Workforce planning

The state of the UK workforce

In recent years workforce has been placed at the front and centre of the NHS agenda and at the college. We have seen challenging times in the shortage of staff, the ageing population and the changes to pension taxation, whilst adapting to workforce issues on the political landscape.

The work we do

The College recognises that active participation in workforce issues is a vital part of our work in dealing with these challenges and ensuring  safe high-quality patient care and training environments.  Therefore the work we do involves:

  • collating robust data and intelligence through studies, research, surveys and censuses 
  • engagement with stakeholders through open, transparent communication for sharing of information and data with the view to support, inform and educate
  • responding to workforce related consultations to NHS, Health Education England and Migration Advisory Committee, House of Lords Select Committee
  • supporting regional engagement events
  • supporting active recruitment and retention initiative
  • ensuring there is College representation at high profile workforce meetings with officials

Workforce Strategy Committee (WSC)

The Colleges WSC is central to the College’s activities in this area. It meets twice a year and much of the work is done over email.  The WSC is responsible for ensuring that the College has the most accurate and up to date data; it recommends decisions in essential areas of workforce planning and provides advice and guidance to Council. The group is constituted from college fellows and includes representation from devolved nations and health organisations. 

Sources of data

The College has gathered timely, accurate and locally sourced data via regular workforce censuses, surveys 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.

To find out more about our data and reports please see our sources of data below.

Looking to the future, the College will keep workforce as a key priority. We will continue to be a strong voice in supporting our fellows and members in their positions to not only help deliver the best healthcare system possible but to look at how we can make the NHS a better place to work.

Professor Ravi Mahajan
RCoA President

RCoA Key Workforce Recommendations

The sources of data presented supports the following key recommendations of the College.

  • Core anaesthesia and/or ACCS (Anaesthesia) training posts must be increased to ensure  sufficient supply to fill specialty training programmes. The total number of core anaesthesia training posts should equal the number of specialty anaesthesia training posts plus a minimum of 25% to take account of natural attrition from the training programme.
  • Specialty anaesthesia training numbers must be increased in the light of future demand projections, most notably from Health Education England’s work conducted by the CfWI. As a minimum, the number of specialty anaesthesia training posts must be maintained at current levels across the UK.
  • SAS and trust-grade doctors make up 22% of the trained anaesthesia workforce, with the largest cohort aged between 40 and 54 years. While retirement plans will vary, as is the case with consultants, this must be taken into account when conducting national and regional workforce planning.
  • The College supports an increase in the intensive care medicine workforce. However, any expansion must not occur at the expense of anaesthesia training numbers. This is a joint RCoA and FICM position.

Links to useful reports

Workforce planning

Tel: 020 7092 1652
email: workforce@rcoa.ac.uk