Future career plans of a cohort of senior doctors working in the National Health Service

J R Soc Med. 2008 Apr;101(4):182-90. doi: 10.1258/jrsm.2007.070276.


Objective: To report on the future career plans of senior doctors working in the NHS.

Design: Postal questionnaires.

Setting: All doctors who qualified in 1977 from all UK medical schools.

Main outcome measures: Future plans and whether participants had any unmet needs for advice on how to put their future plans into effect.

Results: 25% definitely intended to continue with their current employment on the same basis until they retired; 75% hoped for change. A reduction in working hours was the most commonly desired change; but a substantial percentage also wanted changes in job content. 50% of respondents intended definitely (17%) or probably (33%) to work in the NHS to their normal retirement age; and 37% definitely (20%) or probably (17%) intended to retire early. 48% had made plans, in addition to the standard pension, to facilitate early retirement. The main factors given for considering early retirement were family reasons and wanting more time for leisure, a desire to maintain good health, excessive pressure of work, and disillusionment with NHS changes. A reduction in workload would be the greatest inducement to stay. 31% of respondents reported that they had unmet needs for advice about their future plans. Of these, about half were needs for advice about planning for retirement.

Conclusions: Many senior NHS doctors would like to reduce their working hours. Less than a quarter definitely intend to work in the NHS to normal retirement age. Even for senior doctors, advice on career development is needed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Career Choice*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intention*
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • State Medicine
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom