Doctors do not know where to turn for advice on their wellbeing, GMC survey shows
A third of trainee doctors are unsure who at work they should approach with concerns about their own health and wellbeing, a General Medical Council (GMC) survey has found.
The findings come in the GMC’s initial report into its 2019 national training surveys, an annual detailed UK-wide poll of more than 75,000 doctors in training and doctors who act as trainers.
The surveys showed improvements in workloads faced by trainees and trainers, and that the proportion of trainees working beyond their rostered hours every day has halved, from 18.6% to 9.1%, since 2016.
"We all must do more to address the causes of poor wellbeing, starting with making sure that every doctor working in the UK knows who they can turn to in their organisation if their health and wellbeing is suffering."
Chief Executive of the GMC
Questions about travel and common rooms were included this year for the first time. More than a quarter of trainee doctors feel unsafe when travelling to or from work when working out-of-hours or long shifts
And nearly half of non-GP trainers either don’t have access to a common room or, if they do, they rated it as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’. More than 60% of trainees and non-GP trainers disagreed that they had easy access to suitable catering when working out-of-hours.
Charlie Massey, Chief Executive of the GMC, said:
‘We’re pleased that trainees are continuing to see improvements to their working hours and to their training, showing that employers are working hard to tackle issues highlighted by the surveys. However, those efforts must continue if we are to support the excellent doctors we have.
‘We all must do more to address the causes of poor wellbeing, starting with making sure that every doctor working in the UK knows who they can turn to in their organisation if their health and wellbeing is suffering.
‘Doctors work long hours in highly pressured environments, and they need support. We are concerned about how work pressures impact on the mental health and wellbeing of doctors, which could ultimately impact patient care. We’ve commissioned a UK-wide review, chaired by Dame Denise Coia and Professor Michael West, to address this important issue.’
Professor Colin Melville, Medical Director and Director of Education and Standards for the GMC, said:
‘Education providers will be looking closely at the results for their areas and many will be rightly proud of what they’ve achieved. Any improvements, even small ones, will have been the result of hard work in a climate of financial constraint and pressure on the healthcare system.
‘The focus must now be on maintaining these improvements and addressing the issues highlighted in the report.’
Other findings from the initial report show that:
- Rota gaps continue to be an issue. Over a quarter of doctors polled said it wasn’t rare to lose training opportunities due to gaps, and more than half of trainees received under six weeks’ notice, or no notice at all, of their rota before starting in their current post.
- A fifth of doctors who act as trainers also felt that car parks or public transport were not accessible via a safe, well-lit walk and that their place of work did not provide free alternative transport.
The national training surveys were open between March and May this year. The GMC is now analysing the results in more detail and will be working with education providers and employers to make sure improvements are made where training falls below expected standards. A more detailed report based on the findings will be published later this year.