Hospital Dr News

New contract needed to lower working hours

Junior doctors continue to be concerned over long work hours and poor handover arrangements for patients before and after night duty, research reveals.

The GMC survey of doctors in training shows that over half (58.5%) said they worked beyond their agreed hours on a daily or weekly basis. A fifth said handover arrangements before and after night duty were informal or that there were no arrangements at all.

Overall, the survey shows that satisfaction remains high with just over 80% satisfied with their training.

The GMC research asked 54,000 doctors in training in the UK for their views on the quality of their training. This year 97.7% of doctors in training responded – the highest response since the survey began in 2006.

In response, chair of the BMA’s junior doctor committee, Dr Ben Molyneux said: “The BMA is currently in talks with NHS Employers about changes to the junior doctor’s contract that we believe could help address some of the problems highlighted in the GMC training survey.

“Workload is still an issue for many junior doctors with 1 in 5 still working dangerous working patterns that leave them feeling short of sleep on a daily or weekly basis. We cannot ignore evidence that tired people are more likely to make mistakes. Weeks of long nightshifts in excess of 90 hours should be consigned to the dustbin of history.”

Molyneux also raised concerns about the quality of induction and handovers:

“With a third of doctors not rating the quality of their induction as good or excellent there is clearly some way to go ensuring all doctors are properly introduced to a workplace. With evidence that patient care can suffer during changeover it is critically important that all junior doctors have a good induction.

“The survey also shows that the quality of handover is mixed with 3 in 10 relying on informal handover arrangements, phone, email or no arrangements at all. This is an area that needs attention to ensure the continuity of care experienced by patients is seamless.”

Other, more positive  findings from the survey included:

– Over 80% knew who to talk to in confidence if they had personal or educational concerns compared with 77% last year.

– Over 90% felt they were supervised by someone who was competent to do so.

– Just over 80% said they were very or fairly confident that their job would help them learn what they needed to at this stage of their training.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC, said: “Almost 98% of doctors in training have told us about their experiences and we are greatly encouraged by the continued increase in satisfaction with their training.

“We have been doing this survey for a number of years and we know the value it has for employers and those responsible for training our future doctors. Doctors in training provide frontline care to patients so it is vital that we use these results to make sure their training environment continues to improve and to be safe for patients.”

See the survey results here.

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