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The Future Role of the Consultant

Published: 01/12/2005

Executive summary

The aim of this report is to improve the quality and safety of health care for women.

This working party report addresses the ways of enhancing service delivery by considering future challenges in workforce and training.

Continuing improvement to the care of women requires a major improvement in recruitment and significant consultant expansion. Whether day or night, future services will increasingly be delivered by fully trained obstetricians and gynaecologists who also have the special skills necessary to match the diversity of the evolving specialty.

While acknowledging the need for maintaining acute services in both obstetrics and gynaecology and the need for more consultants with a variety of medical and diagnostic skills, training will also reflect the need for fewer consultants required to deliver advanced general gynaecological surgery.

The needs of individual NHS trusts and the limitations of restrictions in working hours must be balanced. Workforce planning must urgently reflect future needs in terms of the increased numbers of consultants required and those trained in subspecialty or special skills. Particular attention must also be paid to clinical academic medicine and research.

Team working and clinical networks will now be planned to ensure that all women receive the highest possible standards of care across the full width of the specialty.

The increasing challenges of the new NHS require close collaboration by all health professionals to ensure excellence and value for money.

The future role of the consultant will deliver a high quality service. However, it is essential, at the same time, that consultant job plans reflect the importance of work–life balance and offer a fulfilling, rewarding and evolving career.