Understanding the role of resident medical officers in the independent healthcare sector

What were the key findings?

  • The population of resident medical officers (RMOs) working in the UK independent sector appears to be mostly made up of younger male doctors who completed their medical training outside the UK.
  • Most RMOs (86%) were practising medicine outside the UK immediately before starting in the role. Many viewed the role as a pathway into practising medicine in the UK.
  • Many RMOs continue to view the role as transitional: only a fifth (21%) expect to still be in the role one year from now.
  • Most, but not all, RMOs feel they have sufficient access to training: almost two-thirds (64%) agreed that they are given the opportunity to keep their skills up to date via training, and a similar proportion (68%) have attended at least one training session in the last year.
  • Some RMOs face challenges in the form of high workloads, isolation from other doctors, an inability to reach senior colleagues for face-to-face support with treatment for patients, lack of time for training, and high levels of responsibility. RMOs identified steps that would help them with such challenges, for instance more in person contact with senior doctors via regularly scheduled meetings.

Why did we commission this research?

As a regulator of all doctors working in the UK, we are keen to further develop our understanding of medical practice in the independent sector and make sure that our regulatory approach is relevant and appropriate for doctors practising across both the independent sector and the NHS.

We commissioned this research to help us better understand the doctors who are working as RMOs in the UK independent healthcare sector, specifically: who they are, what they do and any specific support they might need.

What did the research involve?

An invitation to complete an online survey was distributed to doctors who work as RMOs. The researchers also approached such doctors to complete surveys via telephone.

There is no central list of doctors working as RMOs, however we estimate that roughly 650 doctors may be RMOs. A total of 138 RMOs completed a survey online or by phone.

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Understanding the role of resident medical officers - final research