'Shameful' levels of burnout highlighted in GMC survey, says BMA

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA

Location: UK
Published: Tuesday 11 July 2023
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Responding to the GMC’s National Training Survey 20231, which found that two-thirds (66%) of trainees and over half (52%) of trainers are at high or moderate risk of burnout, Dr Emma Runswick, BMA council deputy chair, said:

“This report further illustrates the severe toll that the pressures of understaffing and lack of support for staff is having on doctors’ wellbeing. It is shameful that two-thirds of trainees are now at risk of burnout – a record high since the survey started measuring this – with just over half of trainers facing the same.

“This survey also highlights how – alongside known impacts on workload, wellbeing and waiting times – vacancies and rota gaps are negatively affecting doctor training. Without enough staff, the quality of training suffers, and therefore we cannot create a better NHS for the future. Doctors and their colleagues are treading water to keep their heads above the surface and this is not sustainable for them, the health service or patients.

“Unfortunately, the recently-published workforce plan lacks the much-needed focus on retention – and omits the key issue of pay – that is so vital for ensuring departments are staffed properly, patient care is improved and workload is manageable.

“The new questions on discrimination are welcome, but the findings are incredibly worrying, and sadly won’t be surprising to many doctors. No amount of pressure in the system can excuse poor behaviours and it’s time that employers stamp out discrimination of all kinds while empowering staff to speak up. These findings echo what we have been saying for years2 around the impact of discriminatory behaviours on the dignity and wellbeing of healthcare professionals and patients, and how leaders must be held to account for lack of progress. How much more evidence do we need to have tackling discrimination becomes a priority?

“That doctors at the beginning of their careers, when they are most vulnerable, are bearing the brunt of these behaviours, sets an incredibly worrying precedent for the future of health services.

“On top of real-terms pay cuts, a persistent toxic culture risks pushing more doctors away from the NHS when patients need them most.”


Notes to editors

The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.

  1. For more information please visit the GMC’s website.
  2. Caring supportive collaborative (2018); Bullying and harassment: how to address it and create a supportive and inclusive culture (2018); Sexism in medicine (2021); BMA’s racism reports (2022); Sexual orientation and gender identity in the medical profession (2022); Disability in the medical profession (2020).