Intended for healthcare professionals


Employers must tackle high level of burnout among trainees, says GMC

BMJ 2018; 362 doi: (Published 09 July 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;362:k3018
  1. Abi Rimmer
  1. The BMJ

Almost one in four trainees (24%) and just over one in five trainers (21%) from across the UK feel burnt out to a high or very high degree because of their work, the General Medical Council’s national training survey has shown.1

The 2018 national training survey was completed by 51 956 doctors in training (a 96% response rate) and 19 193 trainers (a 41% response rate) between 20 March to 9 May 2018. It included questions about burnout for the first time.1

The survey also found that over half of all UK trainees (57%) and half of all UK trainers (50%) who responded always or often felt worn out at the end of the working day.

Almost a third of all UK trainees (32%) often or always felt exhausted in the morning at the thought of another day at work, the survey found. Trainers were less likely to report this feeling, with just under one in five (19%) saying they always or often felt this way.

The survey also asked trainees about how their rotas affected their training. Across all UK trainees, 30% disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement “In my current post, educational or training opportunities are rarely lost because of gaps in the rota.”

A similar proportion (28%) of trainers disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement “My trainees educational or training opportunities are rarely lost because of gaps in the rota.”

Charlie Massey, chief executive of the GMC, said the survey’s findings were a major concern. “Training must be protected and it must be safe, and employers need to tackle this urgently,” he said.

The GMC was doing all it could to tackle concerns about doctors’ wellbeing, he said, but it would take a financial investment to solve the many of the matters doctors raised with the regulator.

Jeeves Wijesuriya, chair of the BMA Junior Doctors Committee, said it was unacceptable to see such a large proportion of junior doctors reporting being burnt out. “Since the 2016 contract was imposed on junior doctors, we’ve made some good progress in a number of areas aimed at improving the working lives of trainees, but these figures show more needs to be done to give junior doctors the respect and working lives they deserve,” he said.

Wendy Reid, executive director of education and quality at Health Education England (HEE), said that her organisation was committed to improving the quality of education and training for doctors.

She said HEE’s programme of work on the problem, called Enhancing Junior Doctors Lives, had published two reports on the work it was doing.2 “ Over this past year we have developed, trialled, and embedded further improvements, working alongside doctors in training, their representatives, and our partners across the NHS,” Reid said.

She added that the initial findings and recommendations of a review looking into the health and wellbeing of students and those training in the NHS would be published later this month.3

The GMC said it would analyse the full results of the national training survey in more detail and publish a more detailed report later in the year.


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