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  5. GMC urges doctors in training to share their experiences of rota gaps

Doctors in training must share their experiences of rota gaps

The General Medical Council (GMC) is to ask doctors about the impact of rota gaps on their education and training, as part of this year’s national training surveys (NTS).

The regulator, which oversees medical education and training in all four UK nations, has added five new questions* on rotas to its annual survey, which opens on Tuesday 21 March.

"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."

Charlie Massey

GMC Chief Executive

Results from last year’s NTS suggested that doctors in training with heavy workloads were more likely to miss out on teaching sessions, be asked to cope with clinical problems beyond their competence and to experience inadequate handovers with colleagues.

As a result, the new questions have been introduced to examine the issue more closely and to improve the GMC’s UK-wide perspective of the impact poor rota design is having on workloads and training.

It is the first time rota design has been has been addressed by specific questions in the NTS, which seeks the views of around 60,000 doctors in training and 45,000 senior doctors who act as trainers.

The new questions have been written with input from doctors in training, researchers and key organisations to make sure they cover the key issues linked to rota design, for example the extent to which educational or training opportunities may be lost due to gaps in a rota.

Charlie Massey, Chief Executive of the General Medical Council 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. After last year’s surveys we voiced our concerns that heavy workloads were eroding time needed for training, and we wrote to employers reminding them of their obligations. We are always grateful for the time doctors in training, and their trainers, take in completing the national training surveys.’

The NTS, for doctors in training and doctors who act as trainers, launches on Tuesday 21 March and remains open until Wednesday 3 May.

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