medical schools council


Greater progression opportunities required to attract clinical academics


The latest update to the Medical Schools Council’s data on clinical academic numbers highlights the ageing profile of clinical academics, with an increasing proportion of academics in the 56–65 age group.

To avert this trend, it is essential that the next generation of clinical academics is adequately supported in entering and progressing through the profession, ensuring the sustainability of this critical workforce.

Clinical academic doctors are vital to the development of the health service, working to train high-quality future doctors while also leading cutting-edge innovations to improve patient care. Stagnation in the sector will pose serious challenges to the profession and the NHS, particularly at a time when the political landscape remains uncertain.

Professor David Crossman, Chair of the Medical Schools Council’s Clinical Staffing Subcommittee, said:

“I am pleased to see the number of Lecturer posts has increased, however it is imperative that we ensure there are enough posts available to allow for transition from junior to more senior grades. As the survey evidences, the profile of the clinical academic is getting older therefore we must provide the opportunities for those who are newly entering the clinical academic field to mature. The NHS is world-leading in both teaching and research but without providing one of its key workforces the incentive of progression, we risk losing invaluable expertise.

“The survey has shown some positive changes in the diversity of the clinical academic workforce including the increasing percentage of female academics. There has been an increase in female representation across the grades over the last decade and a very welcome change at Reader level which has grown almost ten percent since 2010. However, while we are moving in the right direction, further progress is required to reach gender parity. Successful initiatives must continue to be embraced by institutions to greatly extend this growth, particularly within Senior Lecturer positions.

“In a period of great change and uncertainty, we must all commit to the development of the clinical academic pathway to ensure our healthcare system is able to meet the increasingly complex health needs of the UK public.”

Key findings of the report are:

  • Lecturer grades have seen a 36.2% increase since 2010. In contrast, Reader/ Senior Lecture grades have experienced a 21.6% decline.
  • The age profile of clinical academics is increasing.
  • Clinical academics in specialties such as general practice and surgery have seen increases in representation in medical schools. Psychiatry and pathology have seen decreases.
  • Universities are the largest funders of clinical academia.
  • London retains proportionally the most clinical academics in the UK.
  • There has been a loss of Clinical Excellence Awards across the UK, with the biggest falls in the devolved nations.
  • The percentage of female clinical academics has increased by 16% since 2010.

Access the full dataset here


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Notes to editors:

  1. The Medical Schools Council is the representative body for UK medical schools. The council is made of the heads of UK medical schools and meets in order to shape the future of medical education and research in the UK. For information about the work of the Medical Schools Council, please see
  1. This is the seventeenth data update to be published by the Medical Schools Council since 2000. Thirty-four medical schools returned data on clinical academic grade, specialty, percentage full-time, Clinical Excellence Award, source of funding, age, gender, and ethnicity for each in post on 31 July 2018. Note that medical schools which have opened within the last twelve months, or that have been announced but not yet opened, are not included in the data collection.
  1. For more information on this press release, please contact Edward Knight, Senior Communications Officer, on 020 7419 5427, or
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