Intended for healthcare professionals


A fifth of surgeons in England are female

BMJ 2018; 363 doi: (Published 30 October 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;363:k4530

NHS Digital information - not quite right, although total females across all grades in OMFS may be 35%

We have just reviewed the NHS Digital February 2018 information for our specialty (1) and we have significant concerns about its accuracy. For example, it says that there are 209 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) Specialty Trainees in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (OMFS). There are only approximately 150 National Training Number (NTN) posts in OMFS, some of whom work less than full time. Even allowing for some trainees working in core surgery in 'run-through' specialty training posts or working their grace period, the figure within the NHS Digital February 2018 spreadsheet is out by more than one third. This is worrying as these data may be used for workforce planning purposes.

The quoted numbers for OMFS consultants (351) and non-consultant grades (210) feel closer to the mark. It is the proportion of females in the SAS group which makes the total females in the specialty OMFS 35% quoted in the text of the BMJ Careers article (2). Almost all SASs in OMFS are solely dentally qualified rather being medical doctors or having the dual medical and dental qualifications needed to be a consultant or specialty trainee. Clinicians who enjoy working in OMFS but who decide against studying for a second degree and completing surgical training, can only work in a non-consultant grade. The majority of OMFS SASs may be female because they are more likely to take this decision.

SASs are an essential and very active part of the OMFS workforce. Holding solely a dental qualification means there is no CESR route for them to get on the OMFS specialist list but the specialty - through our specialty association (British Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons - BAOMS) - strongly supports OMFS SASs applying for entry to the Oral Surgery specialist list held by the General Dental Council.

Anne Begley
Consultant OMFS Surgeon

1. NHS Workforce Statistics - February 2018
2. A fifth of surgeons in England are female
BMJ 2018; 363 doi: (Published 30 October 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;363:k4530

Competing interests: No competing interests

08 November 2018
Anne Begley
Consultant Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon
Marnie Fullarton, Patrick Magennis
Regional Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Department, Aintree University Hospitals NHS Trust