The GMC’s National Training Survey, published today, has shown that heavy workloads are being reported amongst both trainers (70%) and doctors in training (over 40%) who rate the intensity of their work by day as ‘heavy’ or ‘very heavy’. This is having an impact on the training that trainees are receiving, with around a third of trainers reporting that they don’t have enough time in their job plan for education.

In addition to heavy workloads, 22.4% doctors in training feel short of sleep at work on a daily or weekly basis.

The survey notes that while instances of bullying and undermining behaviour are reducing there are still cases being reported that need to be tackled.

An article in the Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, Valuing trainee doctors – the future of medicine also explored the factors negatively affecting the wellbeing and morale of trainee doctors in the UK, from time and workload pressures to a lack of physical resources such as rest and study areas. The paper identified a number of areas where improvements can be made including securing protected time for training, which ultimately leads to safer patient care.

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

“The GMC’s survey highlights that the majority of doctors in training rate the quality of their teaching and overall experience highly, however, other findings reveal cause for concern.

“The heavy workloads being reported by both trainers and doctors in training ultimately impact upon the training experience received and rota gaps often intensify already significant workloads. As a result, trainers feel they have inadequate time to deliver a supervisory role and many doctors in training feel they are not encouraged to take the study leave they require.

“The survey also highlights instances of reported bullying and undermining behaviour. It is encouraging that cases have fallen in recent years but there are still instances where this sort of inappropriate behaviour is happening, particularly in some specialties, and this must be addressed.

“The Royal Colleges are committed to creating a healthy working environment. The Scottish Academy’s ‘Learning from Serious Failings’ report recommended that Government work with all other stakeholders involved in the delivery of care to foster a work culture in the NHS that prevents undermining behaviour in the workplace. All doctors and other NHS staff should be supported in raising concerns about poor practice as they arise.

“Further work is required to create a culture that is free from bullying and undermining behaviour and in which trainees feel valued, otherwise we will deter future generation of physicians from pursuing a career in medicine and remaining in their training programmes.”

  1. The GMC’s National Training Survey 2017 is published today.

Lisa Rooke

Contact: Lisa Rooke 0131 247 3688