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Third of trainee doctors unsure who to approach at work about wellbeing concerns

A third of trainee doctors do not know who to speak to at work about their own health and wellbeing concerns, according to a GMC report.

The GMC’s annual UK training report also revealed rota gaps continue to be an issue, with over a quarter of the 53,000 trainee doctors polled stating that it wasn’t rare to lose training opportunities as a consequence.

Meanwhile, more than half of trainees received under six weeks’ notice, or no notice at all, of their rota before starting their current post.

And more than a quarter of trainee doctors reported feeling unsafe when travelling to or from work when working out-of-hours or long shifts.

This year’s report found some improvements in workloads faced by trainees and trainers – highlighting the proportion of trainees working beyond their rostered hours every day has halved since 2016, going from 18.6% to 9.1%.

GMC chief executive Charlie Massey said: ‘We’re pleased that trainees are continuing to see improvements to their working hours and to their training, showing that employers are working hard to tackle issues highlighted by the surveys. However, those efforts must continue if we are to support the excellent doctors we have.

‘We all must do more to address the causes of poor wellbeing, starting with making sure that every doctor working in the UK knows who they can turn to in their organisation if their health and wellbeing is suffering.’

He added: ‘Doctors work long hours in highly pressured environments, and they need support. We are concerned about how work pressures impact on the mental health and wellbeing of doctors, which could ultimately impact patient care. We’ve commissioned a UK-wide review, chaired by Dame Denise Coia and Professor Michael West, to address this important issue.’

In May, Charlie Massey exclusively told attendees at Pulse Live that the GMC aims to spend the ‘bulk of its resources’ on supporting doctors in the future.

The independent review on mental health and wellbeing, following the Bawa-Garba case and led by senior King’s Fund fellow Professor Michael West, is due in autumn, looking at the wider profession to address ‘the symptoms of ill health in terms of the provisional service doctors may need’.

An additional review commissioned by the GMC concluded that the CQC should review the working environment of doctors being investigated.