Intended for healthcare professionals


Five facts about conditions in anaesthetics training

BMJ 2017; 356 doi: (Published 15 February 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;356:j785
  1. Abi Rimmer
  1. BMJ Careers
  1. arimmer{at}


Between December 2016 and January 2017 the Royal College of Anaesthetists surveyed members who were in training. The survey received 2312 responses, a 58% response rate. The college’s president, Liam Brennan, said that he was “shocked” by some of the results


Almost all of the trainees (95%) said that in the previous month they had stayed on at work after their shift. Two thirds (65%) had stayed 1-2 hours longer, and 26% had stayed more than two hours. Nearly two thirds (62%) said that in the previous month they had gone through a shift without a meal, and 75% had done a shift without drinking enough water.


Sixty four per cent of the anaesthetics trainees thought that their job had affected their physical health, and 61% thought it had affected their mental health. The college said that the negative effects on physical and mental wellbeing seemed to be worst after core training and before trainees became fellows.


Trainees were asked what sapped their morale. The top five factors reported to negatively affect morale were work-life balance, the burden of assessment, career uncertainty, frequent rotations, and terms and conditions of service. These were followed by feeling undervalued, rota gaps, the ongoing dispute over the junior doctor contract, the shifting training landscape, and the balance of service and training.

Patient safety

The survey asked trainees what they thought worsened patient safety. The three most commonly cited factors were lack of available hospital beds, staff morale, and rota gaps in the medical and allied health professions. The college said that trainees were being asked to fill a gap in rotas on average six times a month.

Burnout risk

A total of 1801 respondents answered optional questions to screen for the risk of burnout. The survey found that 85% of these respondents had a high risk of burnout. This risk was common across grades but was slightly higher among acute care common stem (ACCS) trainees in the junior training grades and among the pre-fellowship senior training grades.

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