Consultants in nhs scotland: a survey of work commitments, remuneration, job satisfaction and retirement plans

Scott Med J. 2004 May;49(2):47-52. doi: 10.1177/003693300404900205.


Background and aims: UK consultants have reported working long hours, increased stress and reduced morale. This study set out to elicit consultants' views on flexible working and to gather data on consultants' workloads, remuneration, job satisfaction and retirement plans. As such it is the first comprehensive study of consultants in NHS Scotland.

Methods: The Information and Statistics Division of the Scottish Executive Health Dept provided a list of consultants working in NHS Scotland Focus groups and interviews informed the design of a postal self-completion, questionnaire.

Results: The response ratewas 61%. Almost two-thirds (65%) of respondents felt their workloads were unreasonable and unsustainable and 67% were unable to provide their desired standards of patient care. Two-thirds (67%) did not normally take meal breaks, 63% had insufficient time for outside interests, whilst 44% felt their health was being adversely affected Many (84%) believed that some of their work could be delegated to someone less qualified but 79% agreed that there were insufficient staff to make this possible. The average planned retirement age was 60 years, with 23% describing their plans as definite and 70% as quite or very likely. When asked what might induce them to postpone retirement, 50% cited reduced workload/work intensity.

Conclusions: In 2003, a majority of consultants in the UK voted in favour of the new consultant contract. This will improve consultant pay and introduce a standard 40-hour working week, including worked on-call. This should address tow of the main areas of consultant dissatisfaction in NHS Scotland. However, staff shortages will require to be addressed if the contract is to be successfully implemented.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Economics, Medical
  • Fees, Medical
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Male
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / psychology*
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Medicine / classification
  • Middle Aged
  • Pensions
  • Referral and Consultation / economics
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data
  • Scotland
  • Sex Distribution
  • Specialization
  • State Medicine
  • Workload / economics
  • Workload / psychology*