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COVID disruption hits training of eight in ten doctors, GMC surveys shows

More than 80% of doctors in training say disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic reduced their access to the learning they need to progress their careers.

That’s the key finding of the annual GMC training survey, completed by 38,000 doctors.

But there are positives, with most reporting their workplaces to be supportive and were working where a culture of teamwork was encouraged.

Trainees were asked whether COVID-19 had affected their ability to gain the experience they need to progress through the curriculum for their stage of training.

Thirty-eight per cent said their opportunities had been reduced significantly, and another 43% said opportunities were reduced slightly.

Around half of trainees (51%) said they had concerns about their safety or that of colleagues during the pandemic.

Of those, more than half reported that their concerns were not addressed in full or addressed at all.

Almost three-quarters of trainees (74%) agreed that concerns relating to patient safety were taken seriously where they worked, while 5% disagreed.

GMC to protect training

Charlie Massey, Chief Executive of the GMC, said the regulator would work with training providers, postgraduate deans and others, to protect training during an ongoing challenge.

He said: “It is important to recognise that, while formal training has inevitably been disrupted, the pandemic is a learning experience for us all.

“The experience doctors gain during these challenging times will be valuable for their future careers.”

The GMC’s work to minimise the impact of COVID-19 on training includes the approval of around 550 additional training locations – so doctors working in them can count that work towards their training progression.

Dr Michael FitzPatrick, co-chair of the Royal College of Physicians’ Trainees Committee said: “The increased workload experienced by medical trainers is striking and we must ensure that clinical training is not damaged in the long-term by COVID-19.

“Teaching time for consultants is often the first thing to go when service demands are high but the long-term impact on the training of consultants for the future should not be forgotten.”

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