How the national training survey supported the Welldoctor project and improved wellbeing at Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Swindon

In 2021, overall UK-wide responses to the national training survey questions on burnout were the most negative since their introduction in 2018. 

This prompted the doctors in training at Great Western Hospital (GWH), to conduct a survey into what might be contributing to burnout levels at their own hospital. The results mirrored the high rates of burnout that were recorded in the 2021 national training survey and identified issues with access to teaching, hot food, and rest facilities. 

In response, trainees created the Welldoctor project, which aims to improve doctors’ wellbeing by tackling the root causes of burnout and making proactive changes to the working environment. The initiative concentrates on five key areas:

  • refuel
  • rest and recharge 
  • reflect and reset 
  • respect
  • rethink

What action was taken? 

The project has led to positive changes in training and working environments at the hospital. Improvements include:

  • launching an interactive, reflective course that helps trainees to consider the impact of challenging situations on their wellbeing
  • making training more flexible by delivering it in a hybrid format and ensuring sessions are available online
  • protecting time in job plans for administrative work
  • providing halal food in the canteen and quality frozen meals for those working out of hours shifts
  • creating a dedicated breastfeeding space for staff 
  • making sanitary products available in all staff toilets

Work is ongoing to develop overnight rest spaces for doctors working out of hours. The project champions are also aiming to make rotas and induction documents easily available to trainees starting new placements. 

What was the outcome?

Supported by national training survey data, the Welldoctor project has improved working environments and increased access to training opportunities for trainees working at GWH. The initiative has been well-received by trainees, doctors, and senior staff.  

Project champions say involvement in the project has improved their awareness of management structures and helped them to develop leadership and communication skills. Trainees on placement at GWH can take part in the project on an annual basis, bringing new ideas and perspectives to inform further improvements.  

Read more about the initiative on the Welldoctor website.

How has the national training survey supported the project?

The national training survey data supported the development of the improvements, by highlighting the specific issues experienced by trainees across the UK. This insight helped to identify the areas the project should focus on and was instrumental in the initial research. The national training survey data was also used as evidence to justify running the project.