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Mr Julian Leong, Clinical lead
Are there jobs in spine?

Consultant job hunting has been associated with a mixture of excitement and resentment. This has become rather topical personally, and I have decided to look into this more systematically. The usual strategy is a weekly British Medical Journal (BMJ) Careers and NHS jobs website search, and most people would agree the automatic email alerts are mostly less than useful.  BMJ Careers claim that they publish around 95% of all hospital jobs in England, similar figures are not available for NHS jobs, but I am sure they are comparable.

The idea is to look for past recruitment trends, for example if some regions have been expanding spinal services, or seasonal variations in job advertisements, or are there more or less jobs in spinal deformity/trauma/academic? BMJ Careers job archive used to be available online, unfortunately the latest website updates have removed this service completely. Nonetheless, I was helpfully sent the link to all the issues available since January 2011 electronically, so I was able to search around 200 files manually. The process was surprisingly painless and reliable, I used the search term “spin” (to capture both “spine” and “spinal), and this goes through each file in less than 10 seconds. NHS jobs do not have an archive service.

123 posts were found between January 2011 and August 2014, the majority of these were substantive NHS consultant posts, with only 24 locum and 7 purely private appointments (Fig. 1). Figure 1 also shows that there is a significant upward trend over the last 4 years, with only 8 months’ of data from the current year. In the advertisement, 37% mentioned (or implied) dedicated spinal on call, 28% deformity, 24% tumour, 39% spinal trauma, and 0% academia (Fig. 2).


Figure 1 showing job advertisements by year.

Figure 2 Consultant job descriptions

The top recruiting regions seemed to be: East Anglia (20), South East (15), Yorkshire (13), North West (13) and North East (13). Table 1 summarises the results. In terms of seasonal variations, between April and July are amongst the top “recruitment months”, not surprisingly December is generally quiet (Fig. 3).

Figure 3 job advertisements by month.

There are obvious limitations in this small project. For instance, NHS jobs data was not available, although one expects a reasonable overlap between the two services. Some jobs were advertised multiple times, and it is difficult to know whether it was due to unsuccessful recruitments, or genuine expansion of the unit. Finally, some locum appointments were advertised more locally, and these were not captured.

Nonetheless, if you are a candidate, don’t stress. The jobs are coming out with an increasing trend. Certainly don’t worry if there are no jobs being advertised around Christmas time.



1. Connor J, Beadle J, MacDonald R. The BMJ Careers job archive. This could be a useful addition to your job hunting strategy. BMJ 2003;327:826.

2. BMJ Careers 2011 -2014.

Julian Leong, Locum Spinal Consultant, Orthopaedic and Spinal Surgery Unit, Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, UK

November 2014