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Searching for the true attrition rate of UK paediatric trainees
  1. Melody Grace Redman1,2,
  2. Davide Carzedda3,
  3. Nicola Jay2,3,
  4. Simon J Clark3,4,
  5. Marie Rogers3
  1. 1 Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Leeds, UK
  2. 2 Sheffield Children's Hospital, Sheffield, UK
  3. 3 Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, London, UK
  4. 4 Jessop Wing, Neonatal unit, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Melody Grace Redman, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Leeds LS7 4SA, UK; meloredman{at}


Objective To quantitatively analyse the number of doctors leaving the paediatric specialty training (ST) programme in the UK, to assist with evidence-based workforce planning.

Design Data were sought on those leaving the UK paediatrics training programme between 2014 and 2019 from Heads of Schools of Paediatrics and Freedom of Information Act requests.

Setting Retrospective data analysis.

Outcome measures Overall attrition rate, attrition rate across level of training, attrition rate across geographical area, recorded reason for leaving.

Results All results must be interpreted with caution due to limitations in record keeping and analysis. The annual attrition rate across all ST levels between 2014 and 2019 is estimated at 3.7%–4.2% (ie, 749–845 trainees may have left the paediatric training programme over 2014–2019). No reason for leaving was recorded for three-quarters of individuals, around 630 doctors. Of those leaving paediatrics, significantly more (χ², p=0.015) did so at ST3 (20.3%) versus the next highest training year, ST2 (13.6%).

Conclusions This project seems to demonstrate worryingly poor record-keeping of the true attrition rate of paediatric trainees by organisations responsible for workforce planning, including Health Education England, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and individual paediatric schools across the UK. To allow evidence-based workforce planning for the benefit of UK children, it is vital that accurate records on trainees who leave the training programme are kept and shared across the UK.

  • health care economics and organizations
  • health services research
  • data collection
  • statistics

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request. Please contact the authors if you wish to access the datasets used.

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Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request. Please contact the authors if you wish to access the datasets used.

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  • Twitter @MelodyRedman, @nic@sheffkids65

  • Contributors The data were collected and analysed by MGR, with input and assistance from all authors. The original draft was produced by MGR and all authors were involved in critical revisions. All authors have approved the final version to be published.

  • Funding MGR completed this work during her time as a Leadership Fellow under Health Education England working across Yorkshire and the Humber Future Leaders Programme.

  • Competing interests DC and MR are employed by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH). NJ is Workforce Officer for RCPCH. SJC is Vice President of RCPCH. MGR is a member of RCPCH. This manuscript is not endorsed by RCPCH.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.