Hospital Dr News

Rota gaps are preventing juniors from taking training opportunities, survey reveals

A quarter of doctors are losing out on training opportunities because of rota gaps, according to the latest GMC Training Survey.

The Royal College of Physicians is calling on trusts to do more to ensure that doctors gain the skills, knowledge, experience, and attributes they will need to become effective consultants.

Co-chairs of the RCP Trainees Committee, Dr Michael Fitzpatrick and Dr Matthew Roycroft, said: “It is appalling that over half of trainee doctors received less than six weeks’ notice of their rota in advance of starting their post, demonstrating no improvement from last year.

“Trusts ought to take action to rectify this issue, which can be easily resolved.”

There are positives from the annual survey of more than 75,000 doctors in training and doctors who act as trainers – namely that the workloads faced by trainees and trainers have reduced.

The proportion of trainees working beyond their rostered hours every day has halved, from 18.6% to 9.1%, since 2016.

However, a third of trainee doctors are unsure who at work they should approach with concerns about their own health and wellbeing.

More than a quarter of trainee doctors feel unsafe when travelling to or from work when working out-of-hours or long shifts.

And nearly half of non-GP trainers either don’t have access to a common room or, if they do, they rated it as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’. More than 60% of trainees and non-GP trainers disagreed that they had easy access to suitable catering when working out-of-hours.

A fifth of doctors who act as trainers also felt that car parks or public transport were not accessible via a safe, well-lit walk and that their place of work did not provide free alternative transport.

Charlie Massey, Chief Executive of the GMC, said: “We’re pleased that trainees are continuing to see improvements to their working hours and to their training, showing that employers are working hard to tackle issues highlighted by the surveys.

“We all must do more to address the causes of poor wellbeing, starting with making sure that every doctor working in the UK knows who they can turn to in their organisation if their health and wellbeing is suffering.”

The national training surveys were open between March and May this year. A more detailed GMC report based on the findings will be published later this year.

Professor Derek Bell, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, commented: “It is important that medical rotas are designed to support the continuity of care, and where possible the continuity of multi-disciplinary teams. Those designing rotas must work closely with trainee doctors to improve the rota system.

“Equally, there must be enough time in doctors’ job plans, to ensure that they have time to train junior doctors. This of course also requires the appropriate facilities too – including space on wards to conduct routine activities as well as having space for rest with good catering facilities.”

Read the results.

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