How the national training survey helped to increase support for trainees during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

The 2021 national training survey showed that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic was affecting anaesthetic trainees at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton. 

The survey highlighted that overall satisfaction had fallen amongst trainees and areas such as local teaching and adequate experience were rated as below average. These results were influenced by reduced access to educational supervisors, the switch to online training and re-deployment to support intensive care.  

Although the leadership team were aware of some of these issues, they used the answers to the national training survey to investigate them in more detail and developed a targeted action plan for improvements. 

What action was taken?

Building on the results of the national training survey, the department put in place several actions to support trainees before the further waves of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit. This included: 

  • increasing the frequency of the junior doctor’s forum to fortnightly so trainees could raise concerns with senior staff on a more regular basis
  • introducing weekly wellbeing sessions for trainees and other staff with a trained mental health facilitator
  • offering more targeted support to help with career progression and exams
  • reducing re-deployment among trainees and improving access to other areas of anaesthetics training
  • guidance on the key duties of educational supervision, improving support for those in a supervision role. 

What was the outcome?

Influenced by these initiatives, the department’s national training survey results substantially improved in 2022. The results indicated that no areas were rated as below average, and levels of overall satisfaction had increased to above the pre-pandemic level. The impact of the initiatives was further evidenced in the 2021 Annual Reviews of Competency Progression (ARCP), with all doctors training in the department receiving a favourable outcome.

The national training survey, alongside regular feedback from trainees, will continue to support the department in monitoring trainee satisfaction and the quality of their training programme.