Heavy workloads still an issue for many doctors in training, GMC survey shows

Over half of all doctors in training say they work beyond their rostered hours at least weekly, and more than a fifth claim working patterns regularly leave them short of sleep, according to the General Medical Council’s (GMC) national training surveys.

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The GMC has published the initial findings from its annual UK-wide surveys of more than 53,000 doctors in training and over 24,000 senior doctors who act as trainers.

Doctors in training told the GMC that overall satisfaction with their teaching remained high. Also, while many continue to report heavy workloads, the situation appears to have improved slightly since 2016.

Findings included around 53% of doctors in training in the UK who said they worked beyond their rostered hours at least weekly, and 22% who said their working patterns left them feeling short of sleep at work on a daily or weekly basis.

The 2017 figures are a slight improvement on 2016 – when 58% said they worked beyond their rostered hours at least weekly – but are broadly consistent with the findings of the GMC’s previous national training surveys.

The GMC report containing initial findings of the 2017 national training surveys is available here.

GMC Press Release

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Expansion of undergraduate medical education

Government outlines plans for expanding medical training | Department of Health | OnMedcia

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The Department of Health has published details of its plans to expand the number of undergraduate training places in England, which include expecting newly trained doctors to work for the NHS for more than five years.

The plans, revealed in a consultation document, aim to increase the home-grown medical workforce by 25%. Currently more than 6,000 university training places are available each year for prospective new doctors, but the plan is to increase this number by up to an extra 1,500 each year from September 2018.

It costs £230,000 to train a doctor in England, and the proposals include plans to obtain a return on this investment, by expecting new doctors to work for the NHS for a minimum number of years, otherwise they will be expected to repay some of their training costs.

A similar system “return of service” programme is already used by the armed forces for certain professions. The consultation asks whether a similar system should be introduced to the NHS for doctor training courses and, if so, how long this minimum term of service should be, suggesting that anything from two to more than five might be expected.

Full document: Expansion of undergraduate medical education: a consultation on how to maximise the benefits from the increases in medical student numbers.

New confidentiality guidance published by the GMC

The General Medical Council (GMC) has  published revised, expanded and reorganised guidance on confidentiality for all doctors practising in the UK.

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The guidance – Confidentiality: good practice in handling patient information – comes into effect from Tuesday 25 April 2017.

Revisions have been made to the guidance, last published in 2009, following an extensive consultation exercise. While the principles of the current GMC guidance remain unchanged, it now clarifies:

  • The public protection responsibilities of doctors, including when to make disclosures in the public interest.
  • The importance of sharing information for direct care, recognising the multi-disciplinary and multi-agency context doctors work in.
  • The circumstances in which doctors can rely on implied consent to share patient information for direct care.
  • The significant role that those close to a patient can play in providing support and care, and the importance of acknowledging that role.

Full guidance available here

GMC press release here