Aim The demand for bowel cancer screening (BCS) is expected to increase significantly within the next decade. Little is known about the intentions of the workforce required to meet this demand. The Joint Advisory Group on Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (JAG), the British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG) and Association of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland (ACPGBI) developed the first BCS workforce survey. The aim was to assess endoscopist career intentions to aid in future workforce planning to meet the anticipated increase in BCS colonoscopy.
Methods A survey was developed by JAG, BSG and ACPGBI and disseminated to consultant, clinical and trainee endoscopists between February and April 2020. Descriptive and comparative analyses were undertaken, supported with BCS data.
Results There were 578 respondents. Screening consultants have a median of one programmed activity (PA) per week for screening, accounting for 40% of their current endoscopy workload. 38% of current screening consultants are considering giving up colonoscopy in the next 2–5 years. Retirement (58%) and pension issues (23%) are the principle reasons for this. Consultants would increase their screening PAs by 70% if able to do so. The top three activities that endoscopists would relinquish to further support screening were outpatient clinics, acute medical/surgical on call and ward cover. An extra 155 colonoscopists would be needed to fulfil increased demand and planned retirement at current PAs.
Conclusion This survey has identified a serious potential shortfall in screening colonoscopists in the next 5–10 years due to an ageing workforce and job plan pressures of aspirant BCS colonoscopists. We have outlined potential mitigations including reviewing job plans, improving workforce resources and supporting accreditation and training.
Data availability statement
Data are available upon reasonable request.
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Contributors SR performed the primary statistical analysis with support of JM and wrote the manuscript with editorial oversight from AMV, STG, IDP, AM, MC, NSF and RL. AMV, STG, IDP, MC, AM, NSF and RL developed the BCS workforce survey questions on behalf of stakeholder bodies. RB, RL, NSF and JM supported the dissemination of the survey. All authors reviewed the final manuscript prior to submission.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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