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Senior doctors forced to work beyond hours to deliver vital training

Around a third of trainers are unable to fulfil their role of delivering training to junior doctors, a stark survey by the GMC has found.

In its ‘Training environments 2017’ report, the GMC claims that job plans do not allow senior doctors to fit in their responsibilities to deliver training to junior doctors.

In a survey of over 75,000 doctors, almost half told the GMC that in order to meet their responsibilities they work beyond their rostered hours each week. Almost a third do so daily.

Charlie Massey, the organisation’s chief executive, warned that more must be done to value and support trainers, who are “the backbone of medical education.”

“Doctors in training are in a live learning environment, but for that to continue it has to be made sustainable in the long term,” he added.

“It is not right that there is such a reliance on trainers always somehow finding the time, often their own time, to keep the system going.”

Employers must ensure that trainers have the resources and the time required for them to meet their educational responsibilities, with job plans that enable them to do so, the CEO explained.

Trainees also reported that they did not always have time for training due to heavy workloads, although almost 60% of those surveyed did feel encouraged to take study leave.

Massey continued: “Training environments must be supportive, and trainees must have access to resources that support their health and wellbeing.

“Heavy workloads and extreme tiredness can exacerbate health problems, and we are looking at ways we can work with others to better support doctors’ mental health.”

Responding to the survey findings, Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, acknowledged the need for further culture change the ensure safe working conditions.

“The most extreme examples cited by Mr Massey and the GMC are thankfully rare but are, we accept, not right for the doctors, their colleagues or their patients,” he said.

Mortimer claimed that since the new junior doctor contract was implemented, over 6,000 rotas have been redesigned to make them safe.

“The embedding of guardians of safe working in every trust and exception reporting systems has brought to light many great examples of how trainees are working with supervisors and guardians to identify and make changes to poor working practices,” he argued.

“NHS Employers is heartened to hear boards are talking about safety and working conditions more than they ever have before.

“We are working to produce guidance on good practice rota design, among many other initiatives, and management which we hope will contribute to the improved work life balance for these doctors.”

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