The BMA has hailed backing shown by the medical regulator to identify the ongoing pressures and concerns posed by workplace rota gaps.
The welcome comes as the GMC is set to introduce a series of questions into this year’s National Training Survey focusing on the impact of rota gaps.
Launching on 21 March, the survey will, for the first time, question junior doctors and medical trainers on the extent to which staff shortages affect training opportunities and care standards.
The announcement comes less than two weeks after the GMC issued a statement calling for trust management to support junior doctors raising workplace and safety concerns through exception reporting.
BMA junior doctors committee chair Jeeves Wijesuriya commended the GMC’s decision to examine the impact of poor rota design on workloads and training, and in doing so to join the BMA in raising debate on this UK-wide issue.
He said: ‘This is an extremely welcome development. Junior doctors all recognise the impact of service pressures on their training, and we are pleased the GMC has worked with us to develop questions to begin capturing data to demonstrate this.
‘Asking whether trainees received enough notice of rotas in advance of starting their posts will also provide an evidence base on this critical issue, which will allow us to focus action where it is needed.’
Training, staffing and advance notice
Each year, the National Training Survey aims to take in the views of 60,000 doctors in training as well as 45,000 senior doctors who occupy trainer roles.
A total of five statement-based questions concerning rota gaps are to be included in this year’s survey, with doctors responding on a scale from ‘strongly agree’ to ‘strongly disagree’.
- In my current post, gaps in the rota are dealt with appropriately to ensure my education and training is not adversely affected
- In my current post, there are enough staff to ensure that patients are always treated by someone with an appropriate level of clinical experience
- I was given enough notice about my rota in advance of starting my current post.
With the 2016 survey indicating that junior doctors faced with heavy workloads were more likely to be unable to attend training sessions, GMC chief executive Charlie Massey said he hoped this year’s survey would help shed further light.
He said: ‘Health services are under significant pressure across all four UK nations, which is why it’s important we get as full a picture as possible of the impact service demands have on doctors in training and on the trainers.
‘Adding specific questions on rota design into this year’s NTS will help us better understand the extent to which doctors’ education and training are at risk of being compromised, and follows the feedback we received from last year’s surveys.
‘Each year’s NTS results help us, and local organisations, to take action to ensure trainees are receiving high-quality training and that trainers are well supported … We are always grateful for the time doctors in training, and their trainers, take in completing the National Training Surveys.’
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