Abstract for: Robust workforce planning for the English medical workforce

This paper describes the use of system dynamics in a major project for the UK Department of Health to inform a review of the intake to medical and dental school. It takes many years to train these professionals (typically 15 years or more for a hospital consultant), so an under or over-supply cannot be corrected quickly or easily. The cost of training and employing an individual is significant so the decisions to be made are highly important. The system dynamics approach meant that robust, evidence-based supply and demand models could be created to test potential policies and their impact. It also meant that the model was “transparent” and enabled the expertise of several hundred stakeholders from the healthcare system to be captured and synthesised. Significant decisions were made as a result of this work, including a 2% reduction in medical school intakes to be introduced with the 2013 intake, with a further review in 2014; no immediate change to dental school intakes because of issues over data quality highlighted by the modelling, with another review in 2013; and a rolling cycle of reviews of medical and dental student intakes should be established; to be undertaken every three years.