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Roles and responsibilities of a consultant

This workforce report replaces the previous RCOG Good Practice Paper ‘Responsibility of Consultant On-call’ which was published in 2009.

The RCOG produces workforce guidance as an aid to good clinical practice. Our guidance presents recognised methods and techniques for clinical practice, based on published evidence, for consideration by obstetricians/gynaecologists and other relevant health professionals. The RCOG is committed to supporting the delivery of high-quality women’s healthcare. We have developed a range of resources to inform and support healthcare professionals.

This new, much more comprehensive report acknowledges that the role of the consultant extends far beyond that of just a senior and experienced clinician, but also encompasses the roles of team leader and role model, trainer and supervisor, risk manager, patient advocate and innovator. Furthermore, the paper highlights the organisational structure and support required to enable consultants to fulfil these roles and responsibilities.

The paper also recognises the importance of professional values and behaviours. It highlights that the interplay between how consultants deliver all the aspects of their roles and responsibilities and how organisations support them are fundamental to creating a positive culture within units; a factor which has been repeatedly recognised as key to providing safe, high-quality and compassionate patient care.

Finally, the paper provides a definitive list of situations when consultants should be informed and when they need to attend while on-call.

This report was published in June 2021 and updated in May 2022.