Intended for healthcare professionals


Five facts about the paediatrician workforce

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: (Published 03 May 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j2113
  1. Abi Rimmer
  1. BMJ Careers
  1. arimmer{at}

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) has published a report on the paediatric workforce. The report is based on figures from the college’s 2015 workforce census, Office for National Statistics data, and information from the college’s trainee recruitment processes.


Hospital admissions for children in England rose by 25% between 2013/14 and 2015/16, from 1.2 million to 1.5 million. Over the same period, the number of completed consultant episodes rose by 23%.

Official shortage

The college has asked for paediatrics to be placed on the official list of occupations for which there are not enough UK workers to fill vacancies. “There is a serious shortfall in the paediatric workforce,” the report said. “Numbers have failed to keep pace with patient numbers, leading to pressure on an already stretched service.”


The government needs to fund 465 more paediatrics training places in each year for the next five years to expand the consultant workforce by 752 doctors, the college says. However, applications for specialty training in paediatrics fell from 800 in 2015 to 580 in 2017.


There are currently an estimated 241 whole time equivalent career grade vacancies in paediatrics. Between 2013 and 2015, the number of specialty and associate specialist paediatricians fell from 923 to 808, a decline of 12.5%. Over the same period, the UK paediatric consultant workforce grew from 3718 to 3996, a rise of 7.5%.

European staff

Paediatric consultants who graduated from outside the UK but within the European Economic Area make up 6% of the workforce. Their numbers increased from 140 in 2009 to 238 in 2015. But the number of applicants to paediatrics training who are EEA graduates declined from 97 in 2015, to 41 in 2017.

View Abstract