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Medical rota gaps

A report which looks at the effects of rota gaps on doctors and patients has been published by the British Medical Association.

Research was carried out by the BMA to get a better understanding of the problems caused by rota gaps, to help inform a set of practical recommendations.

A range of research methods were used to gather feedback from doctors across secondary care.

The recommendations offer practical solutions that can be implemented locally and nationally intended to mitigate some of the negative effects that rota gaps can have on training, morale, work-life balance and quality of care.

Hear how rota gaps are affecting doctors professional and personal lives

Doctors from Brighton and Sussex University Hospital NHS Trust tell us what they have been doing about rota gaps and how it's helped them.


"When ill, rota gaps make it much harder to come in or take adequate sick leave."

Some of the key findings include:

  • More than 80% of respondents to a survey said that individuals are encouraged to take on the workload of multiple staff
  • Over 68% of respondents had been asked to act up into more senior roles or cover for more junior colleagues
  • 65% of respondents said medical trainees are pressurised to take on extra shifts
  • More than a third (34.6%) of respondents reported that their employers had re-designed rotas to include fewer doctors, thereby obscuring the rota gap problem

"I've been on my rota for three years and it has always been half to two-thirds full - this has a huge impact on training and patients."

Recommendations include:

  • Trusts should minimise the impact of rota gaps by effective forward planning by rota coordinators/planners
  • Each hospital should appoint a junior doctor to be actively involved with rota design, planning and rostering
  • All trusts must ensure that the exception reporting system is supported with clear standardised processes for reporting excess hours worked, missed breaks or training opportunities
  • Government, NHS Improvement, NHS Confederations, NHS Employers and commissioners must support employers to place renewed focus on the health and wellbeing of permanent full and part-time staff.

To read the full details of the report click on the button below.

Rota gaps report