di , 27/09/2023
  • New research shows UK doctors the least satisfied with their career choice compared to France, Germany, Italy, and Spain
  • 8 in 10 say working in the NHS has become harder in the past year
  • The vast majority of doctors are unhappy with their pay
  • Just 1 in 4 would recommend a medical career to their children

LONDON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–A Medscape study of 4,347 doctors across Europe’s biggest economies has found that only half of UK doctors (54%) would choose the profession for themselves if they had their time over. The UK result was the lowest of the European G5 where in Germany 72%, Spain 68%, France 62%, and Italy 60% of doctors would choose medicine if they were faced with the decision today.

The research, which included results from 569 doctors practising full-time in the UK, found the number was even lower for younger doctors, with just 49% of medical professionals under age 45 reporting they would choose the profession again. The study also found the vast majority of doctors (86%) felt that working in the NHS has become harder in the past year. NHS staffing levels are by far the most challenging aspect of work, with half of doctors (53%) citing this reason above all else.

“Our research shows the UK leads the top five economies in Europe on doctors’ regret, in that around half would not choose a medical profession again if they had their time over. This is particularly stark for younger doctors, where less than half would do it all again, a sobering temperature check of morale in the wake of recent and historic strike action by junior doctors and consultants,” said Dr John Whyte, Chief Medical Officer at Medscape-WebMD.

The study found 80% of doctors do not feel they are fairly rewarded for the job that they do, and only 1 in 4 (24%) would recommend their children join the medical profession, down 44% when compared to the same research conducted in 2019.1

“We have seen a significant downward shift in the familial association within the medical profession when we compare these results to the same research conducted in the year before the outbreak of the pandemic. Just one in four doctors would recommend medicine to their children, down by 44% in four years. Traditionally children of doctors in the UK are 24 times more likely than their peers to enter the medical profession,2 which signifies how important this pathway is for future recruitment,” said Dr Whyte.

The findings shine a new light on staff vacancies within NHS England, which when published in June stood at 112,000 and are mainly being filled through international recruitment.3 In 2020 the General Medical Council reported a third of doctors who graduate in the UK moved abroad to countries like Australia, New Zealand, the USA, and Canada.4

The top challenges reported by UK doctors are:

  • NHS staffing levels and workload (53%)
  • Burdensome NHS rules and regulations (17%)
  • Dealing with difficult patients 8%
  • Long working hours (7%)
  • Concern about being sued (5%)

In their words

“It’s a job with a horrible work-life balance, most of the time not rewarding, not very respected by society. Few people outside of medicine realise how many sacrifices doctors make and that we pay with our own physical and mental health to provide good care.” – verbatim

“I would leave if I could find another job where I could use my skills acquired over the last 16 years and earn sufficient to support my family. I feel trapped and on a daily basis hopeless.” – verbatim

“Too much stress not enough pay. If I could go back in time and train in something else, I would definitely do that.” – verbatim

“I would actively discourage my children from following this pathway unless there is a very significant change for the better within the NHS, and with the UK government’s general attitude towards doctors.” – verbatim

The Medscape UK Doctors Compensation Report 2023 is available here: medscape.com/uk-doctors-compensation-report-2023

About Medscape UK Doctor Compensation Report 2023

Medscape surveyed 770 practising UK doctors between February and May 2023. Results are based on the 569 doctors employed full-time. The demographics of the respondents were:

  • Female: 28%
  • Male: 69%
  • Prefer not to self-describe: 3%

Responses were also analysed from full-time doctors in France (n=879) and Germany (n=866) surveyed between December 2022 and May 2023; in Italy (n=1,169) and Spain (n=864) surveyed between January and May 2023.

About Medscape

Medscape, a subsidiary of WebMD Health Corp., is the leading source of clinical news, health information, and point-of-care tools for healthcare professionals. Medscape offers specialists, primary care doctors, and other health professionals the most robust and integrated medical information and educational tools. Medscape Education (medscape.org) is the leading destination for continuous professional development, consisting of more than 30 specialty-focused destinations offering thousands of free C.M.E. and C.E. courses and other educational programmes for doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. Medscape is a subsidiary of WebMD Health Corp.

About WebMD Health Corp.

WebMD, an Internet Brands company, is at the heart of the digital health revolution that is transforming the healthcare experience for consumers, patients, health care professionals, employers, health plans, and health systems. Through public and private online portals, mobile platforms, and health-focused publications, WebMD delivers leading-edge content and digital services that enable and improve decision-making, support and motivate health actions, streamline and simplify the health care journey, and improve patient care. The WebMD Health Network includes WebMD Health, WebMD Ignite, Medscape, Jobson Healthcare Information, MediQuality, Frontline, Vitals Consumer Services, Aptus Health, PulsePoint, SanovaWorks, MedicineNet, eMedicineHealth, RxList, OnHealth, Medscape Education, and other owned WebMD sites. WebMD®, Medscape®, CME Circle®, Medpulse®, eMedicine®, MedicineNet®, theheart.org® and RxList® are among the trademarks of WebMD Health Corp. or its subsidiaries.

1 Medscape. UK Doctors’ Salary and Satisfaction Report 2019. Available at: https://www.medscape.com/slideshow/2019-uk-doctors-salary-report-6011623?0=0=reg=1&1=reg=1. Accessed September 2023

2 Friedman S, Laurison D, The Class Ceiling: Why is Pays to be Privileged. Policy Press. 2019.

3 NHS Digital. Latest NHS workforce and vacancy statistics. Available at: https://www.nhsemployers.org/news/latest-nhs-workforce-and-vacancy-statistics. Accessed September 2023

4 General Medical Council. Completing the Picture Survey. Available at: https://www.gmc-uk.org/-/media/documents/completing-the-picture-survey_pdf-87815271.pdf. Accessed September 2023


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