Medical training is being put at risk by the huge and increasing pressures on junior doctors and the consultants who train them, a survey by the GMC indicates.
A quarter of trainees and one in five of trainers feel burnt out, the Training environments 2018 report finds – with the heaviest pressures bearing down on emergency medicine doctors.
‘Competing demands and pressures take a toll,’ the report states. ‘Where they appear, the warning signs that all is not well must not be ignored.’
While most doctors said they were satisfied with teaching and supervision – and most trainers enjoyed their role – the GMC said the ‘continued high quality of education’ could not be taken for granted.
‘Time for training must be protected,’ its chief executive Charlie Massey said. ‘It is too often at the mercy of gaps in rotas and pressures that divert resources elsewhere.’
BMA junior doctors committee chair Jeeves Wijesuriya is ‘deeply concerned’ by the large numbers of trainees saying they feel burnt out.
‘It’s no surprise given the intense workload pressures experienced by trainees,’ he added.
‘These statistics lay bare the real-terms impact of poor planning; if a doctor is working in an understaffed department, not getting a rota until two weeks before they are due to begin a new role and even when they do start they are receiving no proper induction, this is bound to be detrimental to their well-being and affect how they feel about the quality of their training.’
BMA consultants committee chair Rob Harwood warned of the risks to the NHS workforce of a failure to address growing pressures in the NHS.
‘Consultants are committed to training our next generation but many face burnout as this survey starkly shows.
'It’s no surprise that trainers with the highest workloads are struggling the most to find time to teach,’ he added. ‘It’s good to see consultant trainers’ hard work and high teaching standards recognised.
'The huge toll that the intolerable demands and pressures in today’s NHS places on trainers and trainees must be taken seriously. It is no exaggeration to say that the future of the NHS workforce depends on it.’
Short on sleep
The survey also found that two-thirds of GP trainers were working beyond their normal hours every day and that one in three were short of sleep.
BMA GPs committee policy lead for education, training, and workforce Helena McKeown said the findings should act as a ‘wake-up call’.
‘No one wants to be treated by a doctor that is tired and overworked – and the potential impact on patient safety should ring alarm bells. That the clear majority of GPs are – at the same time seeing a large number of patients who are increasingly living with complex conditions – able to still make time to train the next generation of GPs is a testament to their commitment to the profession,’ he said.
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