BMA says employers must act as survey shows doctors are burnt out

By agency reporter
July 10, 2018

Each year the General Medical Council asks doctors in training for their views on the training they receive, and asks their trainers about the support they get in their role. In 2018 over 70,000 trainees and trainers took part, giving their views on training posts, programmes and environments in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The 2018 survey found, "Long and intense working hours, heavy workloads and the challenges of frontline medical practice are affecting doctors’ training experience and their personal wellbeing."

  • Nearly a quarter of doctors in training and just over a fifth of trainers said they are burnt out because of their work.
  • Almost a third of trainees said that they are often or always exhausted at the thought of another shift. And well over a half of trainees, and just under a half of trainers, reported that they often or always feel worn out at the end of their working day.
  • A fifth of doctors in training and trainers told us they feel short of sleep when at work. 
  • Two in five trainees and two thirds of trainers rated the intensity of their work as very heavy or heavy and nearly half of trainees reported that they work beyond their rostered hours on a daily or weekly basis.
  • And around a third of doctors in training and trainers said that training opportunities are lost to rota gaps.

Responding to the results of the survey, BMA junior doctors committee chair, Dr Jeeves Wijesuriya, said: "The BMA has warned of the physical and emotional toll that long hours, anti-social rotas and unsafe staffing levels can take on junior doctors and we hope that these survey results will prompt employers, politicians and policymakers to take action.

"Junior doctors miss training opportunities because there are not enough staff to fill rotas and because their trainers don’t have the time to provide the education and mentoring they need. It is more important than ever that high quality training with expert clinical supervision is not neglected.

"It is unacceptable to see such a large proportion of junior doctors reporting being burnt out, given the intense pressure trainees continue to be placed under in the NHS and it’s no surprise that an increasing number of doctors take a break in their training when poor employment practices and pressures throughout the healthcare system are having such a detrimental effect on their health and wellbeing.

"Since the 2016 contract was imposed on junior doctors in England, we’ve made some good progress in a number of areas aimed at improving the working lives of trainees, but these figures show more needs to be done to give junior doctors the respect and working lives they deserve.”

* Read National training surveys 2018: Initial findings report here

* British Medical Association https://www.bma.org.uk/

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