Training next generation must not be neglected despite challenges of pandemic, warns BMA

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA. 

Location: England
Published: Thursday 22 October 2020

 Responding to the results of the GMC National Training Survey 2020 report1, Dr Sarah Hallett, chair of the BMA Junior Doctors Committee, said:

"The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been far-reaching across the health service, leaving no corner untouched. Many junior doctors have worked in unfamiliar ways and in new environments. The dedication, care and innovation of doctors throughout this time is a credit to the profession.

“However, adapting to these challenges has clearly had implications for doctors in training. While they report that they have worked in supportive teams who have valued their contributions, this report lays bare the fact that more than 80 per cent felt their ability to gain required competencies has been affected. It is essential that training opportunities are maintained if junior doctors are to progress through their careers, and ultimately, become GPs and consultants in coming years.

"The report notes that more than half of trainees said they had concerns about personal safety. Only half of this group felt that these concerns were being addressed. In this context, it is perhaps not surprising that burnout remains a key concern. No-one should feel unsafe in their workplace, and it is crucial that this is addressed urgently. We must look after our workforce, so that they in turn can care for patients.”

Dr Rob Harwood, chair of the BMA consultants committee, said:

“This year’s findings come as no surprise as the whole profession rises to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. There has been a huge increase in the workload of doctors, which has impacted inevitably on doctors in training and markedly so on their trainers. They have risen to the challenge of caring for patients, often while working in unfamiliar ways and delivering effective training and education in these unprecedented times.

“It is a credit to the efforts of consultants, that despite working in truly extraordinary circumstances,  they were still able to deliver good training supervision and supportive team working. However, of concern is the personal impact in terms of workload and burnout that working in the first peak of the pandemic has had for trainers.

“It is vitally important that high-quality training with expert supervision is not neglected at this time. We must ensure that trainee doctors are given the mentoring, experience and support to ensure we have a new generation of professionals to take us through, and beyond, the current pandemic.

“NHS organisations, including employers, need to provide sufficient protected time — SPAs - and resources in senior doctors' job plans to ensure trainers are able to offer the best possible support to junior doctors and minimise any lost training opportunities. These resources will be particularly important as new measures are introduced to help address any training deficiencies that have arisen during the pandemic. Those new measures must not become a further burden on already over-stretched consultant staff.”

Ends

Notes to editors

The BMA is a trade union and professional association 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. The GMC’s 2020 National training survey report is available on the GMC’s website.

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