The GMC national training survey for 2019 again highlighted burnout and fatigue for doctors in training. Among the findings was that a third of trainee doctors are unsure who they should approach at work with concerns about their own health and wellbeing.

More than a quarter of trainee doctors felt 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 rated facilities as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’.

On a more positive note, improvements in workloads faced by trainees and trainers were made, and the proportion of trainees working beyond their rostered hours every day has halved, from 18.6% to 9.1%, since 2016.

Professor Derek Bell, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, said:

The GMC training survey is an invaluable resource, and its findings should be explored at a national and local level.

It is perhaps no surprise that doctors’ burn out and fatigue continue to be highlighted in this report. Much of this relates to the fact that there are significant gaps in medical rotas at all levels, which in some cases could compromise patient safety. We believe that medical rotas should be available at least six weeks in advance, to allow doctors to plan their professional and personal lives.

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.


1. The statistics in full can be found here.

Paul Gillen

Contact: Paul Gillen 0131 247 3658