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Independents' Day

We must address work-life balance for GP trainees

GP trainee and BMA junior doctors committee chair Dr Jeeves Wijesuriya says the GMC’s national training survey findings underscore the need to tackle rota gaps to prevent GP trainee fatigue and burnout.

For years, the BMA has argued that rota gaps are a serious threat to patient safety, to the education and training junior doctors receive and to the morale of staff which is why we agreed with the GMC that national training surveys should include a focus on rota gaps.

The GMC's findings, published today, provide another opportunity for politicians to listen to doctors and take action. It is unacceptable for both patient care and doctors’ wellbeing that more than half of those surveyed say they are working beyond their rostered hours, and one in five say working patterns regularly leave them short of sleep.

The pressure of working in an NHS at breaking point, with chronic NHS underfunding and staff shortages puts doctors at greater risk of fatigue and burnout.

The BMA is ensuring employers better protect training time and improve rostering for trainees, specifically those working less than full time and we have worked with the GMC on a seven-point plan to improve work-life balance, focus on outcomes rather than time spent training, and support doctors with specific needs.

In April, we launched a pilot with Health Education England and the Royal College of Emergency Medicine so registrars working in emergency medicine could, for the first time, apply to work less-than-full-time hours to make work more compatible with non-work commitments.

Pulse is currently running its first survey aimed solely at GP trainees. Click here to complete the survey - participants will be entered into a draw to win free pizza for a year.


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Readers' comments (4)

  • Azeem Majeed

    Thank you for highlighting these issues Jeeves.

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  • Its safe to say the NHS is well past breaking point.

    However much that I support the BMA, the suggestion above will only add to the problems.

    One of the difficulties the NHS faces is dealing with reality and not with a fantasy of how we want the world to work.

    So part time working has done huge damage not in it being a laudable and worthy cause but its not affordable.

    Now both male and female trainees are choosing this has allowed people to discuss this where there was nervousness before hand.

    If you assume limited NHS funds.

    If 10 years ago 3 doctors with 100K training did a job, that same scenario may need 6 part time docs all with the same 100k training. It really is simple as that.

    Large scale part time training and having a majority of drs working part time is not sustainable.

    Certainly its rare in the USa and Germany because it recognized as a cost issue.

    In terms of natural justice part time working is worthy and should be supported (IF WE COULD AFFORD IT). It has been for 10 years and Its clearly a significant part of the crisis which gets whispered at deanery meetings but not out in open forums!

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  • "part time training and having a majority of drs working part time is not sustainable"

    This may or may not be true, but I don't see what can be done about it.

    Suppose all GP practices agreed tomorrow that they would not take on a doctor who was not willing to work 9 sessions a week.

    Presumably the number of doctors who agree to up their session numbers would be more than cancelled out by the number who choose to decline a permanent role to work on a locum basis.

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  • What about the work life balance for GP Partners ?

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