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RCOG statement on the GMC report on medical education and practice in the UK

News 20 December 2017

The General Medical Council has published a new report, ‘The state of medical education and practice 2017’, which analyses data on the medical workforce across the UK. It identifies challenges facing the medical profession and highlights priorities for the UK’s governments and agencies responsible for medical training and workforce planning.

Commenting on the findings, Professor Mary Ann Lumsden, Senior Vice President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, says:

“Obstetric and gynaecology (O&G) services in the UK are being delivered safely – however, the pressure is rising on all staff involved due to a number of growing unprecedented challenges.

“Despite there being an 8% increase in the number of O&G specialists since 2012, our recent report shows we still have 9 out of ten obstetric units reporting gaps in middle grade rotas – and that consultants are having to help fill these, along with speciality and associate doctors and locums. This demonstrates how overstretched the workforce currently is and with a projected rise in birth-rates, this is a worrying trend. We expect rota gaps will continue and worsen with implications on health services for women and their babies.

“This if further compounded by the fact that O&G trainees are among the highest in terms of dropping out of training altogether. This is projected to be around 30%, which means that the future workforce is also at risk. Focused activity on improving retention by providing greater support and high quality training experiences to match the needs of trainees is critical in order to provide the sustainability and provision of women’s healthcare.

“The O&G workforce relies heavily on non-UK graduates, with 55% of our workforce receiving their primary medical qualification from outside the UK. Since health care services are already understaffed and overstretched, we urge the Government to ensure a flexible immigration system to enable skilled doctors from across the world to live and work in the UK – this is particularly crucial in light of Brexit.”


Note to Editors

For more information, please contact the RCOG press office on 020 7045 6357 or by email

The RCOG remains committed to improving women’s health, and a strong and sustainable workforce is critical to achieving this. A report, published in December 2017, outlines the challenges facing the O&G profession and the commitments the College is making to address them. It shows that the O&G field has an attrition rate close to 30%:

The National Maternity and Perinatal Audit’s Organisational Survey, published in August 2017, found that 9 out of 10 units reported gaps in obstetric units.

About the Royal College of Obstetrics & Gynaecology (RCOG) 
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is a medical charity that champions the provision of high quality women’s healthcare in the UK and beyond. It is dedicated to encouraging the study and advancing the science and practice of obstetrics and gynaecology. It does this through postgraduate medical education and training and the publication of clinical guidelines and reports on aspects of the specialty and service provision.