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Medical training in the NHS is too reliant on doctors’ goodwill, GMC warns

Education and training for doctors is too reliant on the goodwill and sacrifices made by senior colleagues who act as trainers, the General Medical Council (GMC) warns.

The GMC’s training environments report, based on its annual survey answered by more than 75,000 doctors, reveals the pressures faced by senior doctors who provide training for junior colleagues.

Doctors who act as trainers have to fit their training roles around daily duties as either consultants or GPs, and almost half told the GMC that to do so they have to work beyond their rostered hours each week. Nearly a third do so daily.

Around one in three trainers report that their job plans do not allow them enough time to fulfil their trainer role.

Charlie Massey, GMC Chief Executive, said: “Trainers are the backbone of medical education, and more must be done to value them and to give them the support they need.

“Employers must ensure trainers receive the resources and time they need to meet their education and training responsibilities. Job plans must include adequate provision for senior doctors to provide training.

“Doctors in training are in a live learning environment, but for that to continue it has to be made sustainable in the long term. It is not right that there is such a reliance on trainers always somehow finding the time, often their own time, to keep the system going.”

“We mustn’t take the continued high quality of medical training across the UK for granted, and we cannot afford to lose the services of trainers by abusing their dedication and goodwill.”

Despite the pressures, most doctors in training continue to rate the quality of their training highly. Just over 75% described the quality of teaching in their post as ‘good’ or ‘very good’.

However, the report highlights the challenges still faced by trainees, who say that heavy workloads threaten the time they have for training. Almost one in four doctors in training report feeling short of sleep at work on a daily or weekly basis.


Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, suggested the training situation was improving.

He said: “Since the implementation of the new junior doctor contract, over 6,000 rotas have been redesigned to make them compliant and safe.

“The embedding of Guardians of Safe Working in every trust, and exception reporting systems has brought to light many great examples of how trainees are working with supervisors and Guardians to identify and make changes to poor working practices.

“We are working to produce guidance on good practice rota design, among many other initiatives, and management which we hope will contribute to the improved work life balance for these doctors.”

Read the full report.

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One Response to “Medical training in the NHS is too reliant on doctors’ goodwill, GMC warns”

  1. danmac says:

    The only way to stop this is to ring fence training budgets such as SIFT. The purpose of the medical school I attended was to deliver a multi-million pound cash subsidy to the local NHS, everything else was secondary. These budgets need to be transparent. I trained at a hospital where trainees were just a stream of income. Whether the hospital staff trained people or not they still got paid. The money disappeared into the general budget whilst students/trainees got stiffed. HEE need to stop funding placements where the budget is hidden and the funds spent elsewhere. Start getting rid of a few Deans and CEOs of hospitals for misspending the training budget and I bet the situation improves! Training funds aren’t about training but rather a cash subsidy for doing nothing…….

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