Fundamental changes apparent in health sector’s use of contractors.
90% increase in recently qualified doctors going freelance.
‘Mid-career’ medical staff keeping hold of permanent positions.

The number of doctors and nurses at either end of the age spectrum undertaking contract work has increased significantly since 2009, reflecting broader changes in employment prospects within the health industry, according to a study by the contractor PAYE umbrella administration company FPS.

The increase is particularly stark among recent graduates, with the number of doctors and nurses between the ages of 18 and 29 working in a contract or freelance role increasing by 90% since 2009*.

Meanwhile, doctors nearing retirement are also now more likely to take on contract work, with the number of over 50s in the freelance and contract industry increasing by 5% over the past two years.

However, ‘mid-career doctors and nurses (those aged 29 to 49) are now less likely to take on contracted work, suggesting they are holding on to permanent positions in the health sector.

In contrast, the number of freelance pharmaceutical positions has decreased significantly in the past two years, with over 26% fewer pharmacists taking on contracted work now compared to 2009.

Simon Last-Sutton, Managing Director of FPS says: “We have seen a significant change in the age profile of contract workers in the health industry. Perhaps there are fewer permanent roles available to graduating doctors and nurses, so young medical professionals are turning to contracting as an alternative means of establishing a career in this competitive industry.

“This trend is also reflected at the other end of the spectrum, with doctors nearing retirement age remaining in the workforce for longer, by taking on part-time roles. This is perhaps a lifestyle decision for them as they near the end of their careers. It is only in the middle tier where we have seen a drop in the number of contracted medical professionals, suggesting that, unsurprisingly, job security is the most important factor for this age group.”