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The changing nature of the O&G workforce

Mary Ann Lumsden

Message from Mary Ann Lumsden

Senior Vice President, Strategic Development
Chair, Workforce Task Group

 

Over the past few years there have been concerns expressed, by workforce planners, of our specialty training an excess of O&G consultants.

 

However, the RCOG is not aware of any regions in the UK where this seems to be the case; instead, we’re witnessing a worrying trend in middle-grade rotas with 88% of units reporting gaps (source: National Maternity and Perinatal Audit 2017).

 

Rota gaps put an immense pressure not only on teams but also on an individual’s ability to deliver safe services, something which our members are doing – but at what cost? Safe services are being delivered at the cost of our doctors’ wellbeing, educational opportunities and job satisfaction, which is leading some to leave the profession altogether. High trainee attrition rates together with changes in the visa rules, an increase in less than full time (LTFT) working, maternity and paternity leave, and ‘retire and return schemes’ are creating rota gaps. Although workforce planners may take account of trainee attrition there is not enough consideration of these other factors in their modelling. Rota gaps cannot be filled with trainees alone and consideration must also be given to other health care professionals of all types who contribute to the delivery of women’s health care.

 

It is essential that we communicate this message to planners and decision makers to ensure we have the workforce required to deliver O&G services going forwards. At the end of 2016 we established a Workforce Task Group to determine a strategy to better support and advocate for the profession. The group’s first priority was to confirm the number and type of roles that provide O&G services as well as their working patterns. It was essential to get this right as all future work and modelling would rely on an accurate foundation and database of workforce data.

 

Where data already existed this was reviewed and sense checked to ensure it was being interpreted in the correct manner. Where data were missing the task group took steps to capture and analyse it, ensuring it was representative of what the profession told us they were experiencing.

 

Many discussions have taken place with workforce planners over the past 12 months to improve their understanding of the O&G workforce and how it operates. The RCOG has also represented the profession on a number of working parties including Health Education England’s Maternity Workforce Steering Group, part of the Maternity Transformation Programme. Discussions have led to a greater understanding among planners and a willingness to work together on future modelling.

 

The Workforce Task Group is committed to continue working with planners, decision makers and the profession to address these challenges and to retain our highly valued workforce.

 

Mary Ann Lumsden
Senior Vice President, Strategic Development
Chair, Workforce Task Group