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Working patterns and retirement

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1. General UK population

Average age of retirement in the UK is 65.1 years for men and 63.9 years for women.

The average retirement age of UK doctors contrasts with trends in the general population.


2. Across medicine

59.6 Average actual retirement age

58.9 For women

59.9 For men

142% increase in the number of hospital doctors claiming their NHS pension on voluntary early retirement grounds (164 in 2008 to 397 in 2018)

40% of doctors will have to stop taking part in initiatives to reduce NHS Trust waiting lists due to an adverse effect on their pension

43% of doctors who have already retired cite "pressure of work" as a reason for retirement

70% of doctors are frustrated by the amount of non-clinical work such as administration

Main factors influencing retirement:

  • 85% Health and wellbeing
  • 66% Workload
  • 61% Burnout

3. O&G







SAS: Specialty and Associate Specialist
Locally Employed Doctors

A full time NHS contract for consultants and SAS is comprised of 10 programmed activities (PAs) per week. However, due to service demands, many O&G doctors are working more than this.

41.7% SAS / LEDs

56.02% Consultant

<50% Just under half of trainees and a third of consultants and SAS / LEDs

In 2019 the RCOG conducted a retirement planning survey of members aged 35 years and above. The survey gathered information on working patterns as well as actual and planned retirement. Respondents included advanced trainees, consultants and SAS / locally employed doctors (LEDs). The following figures are taken from that survey.

The RCOG would like to thank its membership for participating in the survey and providing essential information to inform conversations with key decision makers.


4. SAS / LEDs

Specialty and Associate Specialist (SAS) and locally employed doctors (LED) provide an invaluable service to O&G departments, with many performing highly specialist roles such as running clinics and theatre lists. 

76% of SAS / LEDs do on-call work

31.76% of SAS / LEDs doctors expect to retire before the age of 63

SAS / LEDs are more likely than consultants to be resident when working on call


5. Consultants

59.64% of O&G consultants expect to retire before the age of 63 (20% before the age of 60).

75% of consultants have reduced sessions over the past 2 years

97+% of consultants have an NHS pension

Main reasons for reducing sessions include:

  • Achieving a suitable work/life balance
  • Pension taxation
  • Maintaining health and wellbeing
  • Excessive workload, including too much on-call