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Royal Colleges of Physicians Update Later Careers Guidance

12 Dec 2023

The new guidance is informed by the latest data on doctors aged 50 or over gathered in the 2022 intercollegiate census of consultant physicians.

The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, alongside the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and the Royal College of Physicians of London have updated their Later Careers Guidance.

The new guidance is informed by the latest data on doctors aged 50 or over gathered in the 2022 intercollegiate census of consultant physicians.

It includes the following recommendations:

  • Make flexible or part‐time working options available to senior doctors.
  • From the age of 60 a consultant should opt into on‐call only if they wish to.
  • Ensure senior doctors have protected time for teaching, embedded in their job plans.
  • Appraisal of senior doctors should be sensitive and proportionate to their working arrangements.
  • Enable employers to consider whether a requirement of a full licensce to practice is needed to continue to work in a teaching/ examining role in their institution.
  • Team job planning should be done as a department to ensure roles are complementary
  • Employers should remain in contact with recently retired physicians or those not currently working.

The value of senior doctors in the NHS cannot be overstated and retaining highly experienced staff as they approach retirement age is vital step in addressing workforce challenges.

Alongside a wealth of knowledge and expertise, senior consultants and retired doctors hold the key to delivering education, training, and examining urgently needed to equip the next generation of physicians.

Data from the 2022 census indicates one in three consultants who are not yet retired express they wish to retire early. This poses significant concern as it represents a considerable potential loss from the workforce, further exacerbating shortages and rota gaps.

However, the census also revealed the interest in flexible working continues to grow among consultants and 58% indicated they would delay retirement if they could work flexibly and/or reduce their hours.  New pension rules now enable greater flexibility around retirement and appropriate support in job planning alongside the recommendations outlined above will be integral to retention of senior doctors.

As a Royal College, we will continue to draw on the census data to advocate for physicians across the UK and promote this approach to governments and employers.   

Read the full guidance here – Later Careers Guidance

Category: Workforce

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