If training full-time in a numbered post, it takes four years to gain a certificate of completion (CCT) in palliative medicine. Trainee numbers in palliative medicine have increased from 135 (in 2001) to 243 (in 2012) and about 30% train flexibly. 149 palliative medicine trainees responded to the recent RCP 2011 survey (response rate 59%). The vast majority work an on-call rota rather than a full-shift rota, with just over 50% receiving a pay banding of 1A or 1B. Compared with other specialties, palliative medicine trainees spend proportionally more time doing ward work (52% of their time, compared to 46.6% for geriatric medicine trainees).
The survey revealed that 74% of palliative medicine trainees felt positive about going to work in the morning (one of the higher figures compared to other specialties). In comparison to most other medical specialties, there is a much higher proportion of female trainees in palliative medicine, at about a 1:5-6. Specialties with a similar gender bias include clinical genetics.
During 2012-13, for the 34 CCTs awarded, 25 (67.6%) were in substantive posts, and 7 (20.6%) were in locum consultant posts. During 2011-12, 34 CCTs were awarded, with 20 (59%) in substantive posts, and 4 (11.8%) in locum posts.
The estimated Royal College of Physicians workforce requirements are 2 full-time equivalent consultants for a population of 250,000, which represents 505 full-time equivalent posts across the UK. According to the Specialty Advisory Committee workforce data for 2012, there are 409.6 full-time equivalent palliative medicine consultants in the UK.