Consultant England

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Consultant workload survey

Craigavon hospital 
17 October 2016
Secondary care

Having an up-to-date picture of how consultants are working is crucial to the BMA's ability to represent and champion the work you do.

This is especially important at a time when we are negotiating a national contract in England that fairly rewards consultants, respects professionalism and supports the provision of high quality patient care.

Surveying doctors is crucial to our ability to represent and champion the work you do.

BMA consultants committee

That's why we conducted a survey of consultants in early 2017 - just over 1,700 - from a wide range of specialisms participated.

The findings show that workloads are often unmanageable, and have an impact on patient care, rota gaps are a common problem and for almost two in three consultants, morale is low.

Make your voice heard and have your say in My working life group on Connecting Doctors.

Read more about the survey findings below.


Key survey findings

  • SPA time and study leave

    • Average SPA figure is 1.8 PAs
    • 15% reported a decline in allocated SPA time over the last year
    • 1 in 10 have had study leave requests turned down
    Has your SPA allocation changed in the past year?
    Yes, increased 5%
    Yes, decreased 15%
    No, stayed the same 81%
  • Rota gaps and vacancies

    • 60% have one or more consultant vacancies in their department
    Do you currently have consultant rota gaps in your department?
    Yes 46%
    No 54%


    How many consultant vacancies do you currently have in your department?
    None 40%


    2 19%


    4 5%




    How many of these vacancies have been vacant for more than six months?
    None 23%


    2 22%


    4 6%




    Do you currently have junior doctor rota gaps in your department?
    Yes 71%
    No 29%
  • Morale and workload

    • Only 13% of consultants reported that their workload was low or consistently manageable.
    • Almost two third (63%) said it was sometimes unmanageable and almost one in four (24%) reported it was consistently unmanageable.
    • Half of those surveyed said their workload had a negative (43%) or significantly negative (7%) impact on the quality of patient care.
    • One in two (49%) had been affected by work related stress in the last year.
    • Almost two in three (61%) reported their morale as being low or very low.
    How would you describe your current workload?
    Low 1%
    Consistently manageable 12%
    Generally manageable, sometimes unmanageable 63%
    Consistently unmanageable 24%


    What impact does your current workload have on the quality of care that your patients receive?
    A significantly positive impact 3%
    A positive impact 12%
    No impact 36%
    A negative impact 43%
    A significantly negative impact 7%


    In the last 12 months, have you felt unwell as a result of work-related stress?
    Yes 49%
    No 51%


    Taking everything into account, how would you describe your current level of morale?
    Very low 15%
    Low 46%
    Positive 35%
    Very positive 3%


  • Future intentions

    • Almost one in five (19%) say are planning on working fewer hours in the next 12 months.
    • One in 20 (5%) report they want to work overseas and a similar figure (6%) are planning on retiring.
    What are your career plans for the next 12 months?
    Continue working as a doctor in the UK 69%
    Continue working as a doctor in the UK, but working fewer hours 19%
    Change career and stop working as a doctor 2%
    Work as a doctor overseas 5%
    Retire from work entirely 6%