Training survey exposes rota-gap dangers

The ‘serious’ threat posed by gaps in junior doctors’ work rotas has been laid bare by a national training survey.

A majority of doctors in training (54 per cent) work beyond their rostered hours, the GMC UK-wide survey of more 53,000 trainees revealed. And more than one in five (22 per cent) said working patterns regularly left them short of sleep.

For the first time the annual survey also asked whether the design of rotas affected their education and training – and almost one third (31 per cent) of trainees and 27 per cent of trainers disagreed with the statement ‘education and training opportunities were rarely lost due to gaps in rotas’.

Doctors leaders said the extreme pressure meant staff were facing ‘stress, fatigue and burnout’.

GMC chief executive Charlie Massey described the impact of ‘workload issues’ on doctors’ education and training as ‘persistent and troubling’.

‘Tiredness and fatigue can impair decision-making, and so can impact on patients as well as the doctors themselves,’ he added.

Mr Massey said this year’s results suggested that some trainees had seen an improvement in workload but that it was ‘too early to determine’ whether this was the start of a ‘longer-term trend’.

A slightly larger proportion of trainees (58 per cent) told the GMC last year they had worked beyond rostered hours. But Mr Massey said trainees continued to describe their workloads as ‘very challenging’

Article from BMA, 4 July 2017