Britians first medical schoolA&E doctors are the most “sought after” in 2014, according to a report by RIG Locums.

In a study by the organisation, which supplies locum doctors to the NHS, A&E doctors come top of the 10 most urgently needed consultants in the UK.

The national shortage has been widely reported, with A&E departments even being compared to “war zones”. The Commons health select committee has highlighted that over 80% of A&E units are unable to provide coverage by an on-duty consultant for the 16 hours a day required to guarantee the best patient care.

Restrictions on working hours and the working time rest policy have also acted as a catalyst, with the consultants that are available being limited to a certain number of hours.

Elderly Care

The second most in demand doctors are for Elderly Care. Growing numbers of people between the ages of 65 and 84 are expected to reach 39%, over the next 18 years. This increases to a huge 106% for people over the age of 85. With many of these suffering from long-term ailments such as kidney problems, heart issues and diabetes, pressure is mounting on elderly care departments.

Dermatology Doctors

Third are doctors of dermatology. Some 54% of the UK population is affected by skin conditions and 24% see their GP about skin disease each year, according to the Royal College of Physicians. In 2009-2010, this resulted in 2.47 million consultations and these numbers set to increase even further over the next two decades. 

Radiology Doctors

Radiologists, which come fourth, play an integral part in the diagnosis and management of diseases, with clinical radiology becoming one of the fastest expanding specialties over the last few years.

The Royal College of Radiologists’ 2011 census reports a significant increase in workloads, with over a third more requests for MRs, CTs and interventional radiology since 2008. 

Haematology Doctors

The surge in the number of haematology consultants at the beginning of the last decade has not been maintained, according to the latest census by the Royal College of physicians - leading to a significant shortage. Haematology consultants, number 5 in the list, have also been flagged on the Migration Advisory Committee’s shortage occupation list as a concern over the next year.

Paediatric Doctors

According to the latest children’s doctors census undertaken by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, there is a UK-wide shortage of paediatric consultants, which are number 6 on the list. The findings revealed that between 2009-2011:

  • The number of paediatric consultants has grown at an annual rate of 2.3%, which is too slow to meet demand with 86 permanent vacancies
  • The number of specialty and associate specialist doctors has seen a 17% decrease
  • There are too many paediatric in-patient units, with only 7 closures out of a recommended 48, as advised by the Facing the Future report released by the college
  • There is risk to the research and innovation work carried out by the NHS, with a reduction in academic paediatricians by 11%.

Ophthalmology Doctors

Ophthalmology doctors are in seventh place. With a shortage sweeping Europe, the UK is in the worst position with only two ophthalmologists per 100,000 population compared to Greece which is at the top of the pile with 14 ophthalmologists per 100,000 population.

Child Psychiatry Doctors

The new digital era and raised awareness of child abuse following high profile sexual abuse scandals are all contributing factors in the increased number of child psychiatry department admissions, which are number 8 in the list.

Internet bullying has become increasingly prevalent among school children and according to a recent report from the NSPCC, nearly one in five children have had undesirable experiences online last year which included bullying and cyber-stalking. This has put more pressure on parents and schools to deal with mental health problems, and therefore more cases have been referred to child psychiatry doctors.


From the front line, RIG Locums is seeing a shortfall in gastroenterology doctors, at number 9, due to the mounting pressure on gastroenterology departments.

Several factors appear to be at play. Most recently, added pressure has stemmed from the recent introduction of the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme (BCP), which looks to reduce the number of bowel cancer deaths by 16% by offering free bowel cancer screening to patients over the age of 55 without referral from a GP. This has seen the number of new bowel cancer cases rise considerably.

Oncology Doctors

The demand for oncology doctors and surgeons, at number 10, is on the rise with the steady increase of new cases of cancer.

While the percentage of new cancer cases hasn’t seen much change over the last decade, the increasing population has meant that the number of new incidents has risen by 50,000 over the last decade. This increase is also attributable to the ageing population with 50% of cancers diagnosed in patients over the age of 65.