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GMC warns on NHS in ‘state of unease’

Ellen McCourt portrait serious 16x9
MCCOURT: ‘completely unacceptable’ pressures are hitting the quality of medical training

Doctors are showing ‘unmistakable’ signs of distress in a profession now in a ‘state of unease’. 

This is the stark analysis by the GMC in its report The state of medical education and practice in the UK, released this week.

The GMC points to the ‘severe’ eight-year squeeze on NHS funding, rising demand and the fragility of social care services as sources of workload pressure – putting patients at risk. 

Doctors reporting escalating levels of stress, depression and anxiety are also putting themselves at risk. 

‘The GMC is concerned because of the impact this might have on the professional standards for which we are responsible,’ the report says.

‘The pressures on the system are having direct impact on the education and training environment, which is the foundation for future healthcare.’

The report points to the ‘anger and frustration’ sparked by the junior doctors’ dispute alongside ‘a host’ of other issues – unrelated to pay and conditions – that have created a ‘dangerous level of alienation’.

‘The signals of distress are not always easy to interpret but they are unmistakable,’ it adds. 

The GMC wants its analysis to be seen as a ‘message to governments, employers, regulators, and the profession itself’ rather than a ‘counsel of despair’.


Junior doctors alienated

BMA junior doctors committee chair Ellen McCourt said the ‘completely unacceptable’ pressures it highlighted were hitting the quality of medical training.

‘To protect the future of the NHS, the Government must urgently address the workload, staffing and funding challenges that are overwhelming our health service and ensure that junior doctors have the necessary time and support for their training,’ she added.

‘Over the past year, junior doctors across the country have raised concerns about the reality of working in an overstretched health service and the impact that has on their morale and patient care.’

‘The imposition of the new junior doctor contract has alienated junior doctors; it is vital that the Government works to rebuild trust and show staff across the NHS, who continue to work flat-out to keep the NHS going, that they are valued.’

An NHS Employers spokesperson welcomed the report’s insight into the ‘huge financial and service pressures the NHS is under’.

‘We know insufficient social care funding is an immediate threat to the NHS and the wider health and care system putting increasing pressure on frontline staff and patients.

‘We need the Government to incentivise greater coordination between local authorities and the NHS and to invest more in out-of-hospital health and care.’

Read the GMC’s report

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