GMC report: the state of medical education and practice

Doctor thank you

The General Medical Council has published The state of medical education and practice in the UK, 2019  report following on from their workforce report in October 2019.

The state of medical education and practice in the UK

The ninth annual report published on 18 December 2019, puts a spotlight on the changing careers of doctors. With more doctors taking years out of practice or reducing their hours, the NHS needs to make changes in how it delivers healthcare in the future.

The report lists five areas that require action to ensure there is a sustainable workforce that meets demand and ongoing pressures:

  • increase the supply of doctors, with a particular focus on more generalists to support the high workloads in primary care
  • build greater flexibility in medical training and practice
  • better resourcing and planning of clinical leadership to shape workplace cultures and support the wellbeing of staff
  • more joined- up regulation across the UK’s health services
  • enable new models of care with greater multidisciplinary working

The GMC and its partners across the UK are making increased flexibility, clinical leadership and smooth processes as well as others their key priorities for 2020.

The workforce report

The report shows that for the first time, the number of doctors licensed to practise in the UK is over a quarter of a million, but reductions in hours and increasing demand mean that this workforce is insufficient.

Key findings

  • The workforce is increasingly international and diverse. For the first time, more non-UK medical graduates took up a licence to practise than UK medical graduates.
  • Retention of doctors remains an issue. Doctors, in the face of pressures, are reducing their hours or intending to leave UK practice. This is especially serious for GPs and international medical graduates in specialty and associate specialist and locally employed roles.
  • Wellbeing is key to improving retention of doctors and quality of patient care.
  • The future workforce requires more expert generalists as well as more specialists in identified areas such as psychiatry and radiology to meet future patient demand.
  • Greater flexibility in training and job design is needed. Data shows the system is starting to respond to these needs, for example, this year there’s been a sharp increase – of 6 per cent – of doctors on GP training programmes.

This is a useful report that employers welcome each year, using it to improve how they plan their medical workforce and deliver safe, high quality care.

To download full copies of both the reports, visit the GMC website.


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