Hospital Dr News

Burnt out doctors struggling to find time for essential training, GMC survey shows

Nearly a quarter of trainee doctors say their work makes them feel ‘burnt out’, and almost one in three say they are often ‘exhausted’ in the morning at the thought of another shift, according to a GMC survey.

The nationwide poll of trainees shows that nearly half report regularly working beyond their rostered hours, and around one in five say they often feel short of sleep while at work.

Forty per cent described the intensity of their work as ‘heavy or very heavy’.

Trainers also reported heavy workloads, with a third of them saying it was hard to find the time they need to fulfil their educational roles.

Charlie Massey, Chief Executive of the GMC, said: “Doctors are working in highly pressured environments and they are telling us that as a result they are struggling to find time for essential training. This is a major concern for us. Training must be protected and it must be safe, and employers need to address this urgently.

“But it is also important that the wider issues reported in our surveys, around work-life balance, burn-out and exhaustion, are acted on. We can put off no longer the need to give doctors in training – who make up a fifth of all doctors – the resources they need and deserve.

“As a regulator we are doing all we can, through programmes of work to address doctors’ wellbeing and by giving them the confidence to raise concerns and have them acted on. But it will take investment to solve the issues doctors are telling us about. Those responsible for allocating healthcare funding across the UK must ensure proper provision is made for education and training.”

The GMC is now analysing the results in more detail, and working with education providers to make sure improvements are made where training falls below expected standards.

A more detailed report based on the findings will be published later in the year.

Dr David Evans, Vice President for Training and Assessment at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, commented: “This survey raises serious concerns about the wellbeing of trainee doctors. We know that for paediatric trainees, workforce pressures and falling recruitment numbers have a major impact on morale. Almost 1 in 5 paediatric trainee positions are currently vacant, leading to severely difficult working environments where young doctors feel stressed and lack time for vital training and education.

“We need funding for an increase in the number of paediatric trainee places to 465 in each training year for the next 5 years in order to see a sufficient expansion of the workforce. We also ask that the wellbeing of our trainees is valued and the quality of their training is enhanced; protected time for training is essential to ensure they gain the educational opportunities they need to progress in their careers. This survey should be a wake-up call for governments across the UK, who must act without delay to support trainee doctors and ensure a safe, sustainable health service for everyone.”

Read the full report.

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