The state of medical education and practice in the UK

Download the 2021 report (pdf)

The state of medical education and practice in the UK is our annual report on the realities and challenges faced by medical professionals in the UK’s healthcare systems.

First published in 2011, the report uses data and insights from the medical register, our national training survey, the Barometer survey, in-depth interviews and focus groups to provide a comprehensive picture of doctors’ experiences, as well as trends in the medical workforce and education.


This year's report

 This year’s report looks at how the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the recovery have affected doctors’ work and training. It provides valuable insights into their thoughts, experiences, and intentions for the future. And it highlights learnings that the UK health services can use to support doctors and patients.

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Barometer survey

We commissioned IFF Research to conduct an online survey of doctors: the Barometer survey.

The survey is run annually and allows us to report on changes in doctors’ career intentions, experiences in the workplace, and frequency of adaptations to pressurised environments.

Its key findings are reported in The state of medical education and practice in the UK.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the key research questions were adapted for the 2020 and 2021 research to explore:

  • the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on doctors’ working lives
  • doctors’ experiences of working in a system under pressure and the impacts this has on patient safety and doctor wellbeing
  • doctors’ satisfaction with their working lives and drivers for this
  • likelihood to make career changes in the next year, including the likelihood to leave the UK medical profession.

Changes to doctors’ working practices research

We commissioned Trajectory to conduct research exploring the implications of sustaining changes to doctors’ working practices that have emerged during the pandemic.

  • The research involved a desk review of existing evidence, followed by focus groups with doctors and interviews with clinical leads and managers. 
  • The findings point to various areas where doctors’ practice has changed during the pandemic including digitally enabled remote working, shifts in roles and responsibilities within the multi-disciplinary team, and reconfiguration of care pathways.
  • The factors identified as most important for enabling positive change to be sustained include robust investment in staff and technology, expanded and flexible guidance, and shifts in culture.

Previous reports

See our findings from 2011 to 2020