Junior doctors spend more time on administrative tasks than in formal training, a report warns.
The BMA’s cohort study has traced the career progression of 430 medical graduates who qualified in 2006. Researchers working on the study asked junior doctors in their first year of specialist training to indicate how much time they spent undertaking different activities at work.
Respondents said that most (66%) of their time was spent on clinical duties. However, 14% was spent carrying out administrative tasks, more than the time they spent in formal training in a clinical setting (13%).
Dr Shree Datta, chair of the BMA’s junior doctor committee, said: “It is galling to find doctors spending more time filling forms than learning the skills they need to be the consultants and GPs of tomorrow.
“It is especially worrying, at a time when junior doctors’ working hours have fallen, to see so much of their time taken up on paperwork. Trainees should, first and foremost, be clinicians who are learning their trade. For the benefit of our patients, employers need to look closely at the workload of junior doctors to ensure that their time is being used appropriately.”
The study also questions the quality of training. It shows that some doctors are not receiving the training they need to undertake the work required of them as specialist trainees. Fifteen per cent of doctors felt that they had been asked to undertake tasks that were beyond their capabilities with this proportion rising to 36% for doctors on general practice placements.
Some felt there were times when they were placed in clinical situations of which they had no experience. Others felt that they did not have senior colleagues on hand when dealing with complex cases.
Dr Datta added: “Junior doctors should always have the appropriate training to carry out the tasks demanded of them. They should not be placed in a position where they are expected to work beyond the level of training they have received. If we don’t train junior doctors properly we risk jeopardising the high standards of medical expertise that our patients deserve.”
Read more on the cohort study.