Hospital Dr News

Heavy NHS workloads compromising junior doctors’ training, GMC survey shows

Most trainees say they work beyond their rostered hours at least weekly, and more than a fifth claim working patterns regularly leave them short of sleep.

These are the key findings of the GMC’s national training survey, which polled more than 53,000 doctors in training and over 24,000 senior doctors who act as trainers.

53% of doctors in training in the UK said they worked beyond their rostered hours at least weekly, and 22% who said their working patterns left them feeling short of sleep at work on a daily or weekly basis.

The 2017 figures are a slight improvement on 2016 – when 58% said they worked beyond their rostered hours at least weekly – but are broadly consistent with the findings of the GMC’s previous national training surveys.

On the positive side, doctors in training told the GMC that overall satisfaction with their teaching remained high.

This year’s national training surveys also included, for the first time, test questions to specifically ask doctors about rota design, and in particular whether it impacted on their education and training.

UK wide, 31% of doctors in training either ‘disagreed’ or ‘strongly disagreed’ with the statement that education and training opportunities were rarely lost due to gaps in rotas. A similar proportion of trainers – 27% – shared this view.

The GMC’s Chief Executive, Charlie Massey, said: “Workload issues, and the impact they can have on doctors’ education and training, remain a persistent and troubling issue. Tiredness and fatigue can impair decision-making, and so can impact on patients as well as the doctors themselves.”

The national training surveys were open between March and May this year, and achieved response rates of 98% for doctors in training and 53% for trainers.

The GMC is analysing the data more closely and will publish a more detailed report later in the year.

Massey added: “The results do reflect the concerns that have been raised previously by doctors in training, and they suggest rota issues are affecting some doctors’ access to education and training.

“We know frontline health services are under huge pressure at the moment, but education providers must do their utmost to make sure rotas provide doctors with sufficient access to learning opportunities and to minimise the adverse effects of fatigue and workload.”

Commenting on the findings, NHS Employers chief executive Danny Mortimer said: “This highlights the work that employers and senior medical professionals must still do to improve the safe working and effective education of junior doctors.

“The 2017 contract improves protections for the working hours and training of junior doctors. Doctors have been moving on to these new arrangements, and they are starting to work with the consultant medical staff responsible for their training and work to address the requirements of the new contract.”

Dr Taj Hassan, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, added: “We continue to call for urgent investment on a comprehensive strategy to remedy the workforce shortages in emergency medicine, which would be paid for by savings in the spend on locum doctors.”

Read the report.

Bookmark and Share

Post a Comment

Enter this security code

Submit Comment for Moderation