GMC poll highlights out-of-hours 'exploitation' fear for GP trainees

GP trainees working in out-of-hours care are being forced to work beyond their competence or with insufficient supervision, according to a GMC poll that underlines fears over junior doctors being exploited by overstretched providers.

Out-of-hours services (Photo: Science Photo Library)
Out-of-hours services (Photo: Science Photo Library)

One in nine GP trainees working with out-of-hours organisations said they had been forced to work beyond their competence, according to the GMC's national training survey (NTS), and around 7% said they had been supervised by someone they felt was not competent to do so.

Among F2 doctors completing placements in out-of-hours general practice, 53% felt they had been forced to cope with clinical problems beyond their competence or experience.

Around 60 GP trainees and 295 F2 doctors responded to the questions on out-of-hours work in general practice. In total, more than 70,000 doctors in training and doctors who act as trainers took part in the GMC survey, which found that one in four medical trainees are suffering from burnout.

Pressure

The majority of GP trainees and F2 doctors working out-of-hours who felt they had been forced to work beyond their competence said this happened 'less than once a month'.

However, the findings appear to back up concerns raised in a GMC report in May that warned GP trainees were being used 'solely for service provision' by overstretched providers who were failing to put their education first.

In some areas, the report earlier this year warned, trainees would arrive on site and be allocated a patient list ‘with little practical induction prior to the beginning of their first shift’.

Responding to the report in May, BMA GP trainee subcommittee chair Dr Tom Micklewright said: ‘At a time when general practice is suffering from a recruitment and retention crisis, more must be done to ensure that trainees – and the future of the GP workforce – are not put off by inadequate and unsafe working environments.'

Quality

Addressing the most recent training survey, a GMC spokesman told GPonline: ‘We share the results of the NTS with training providers, including employers, to identify areas of concern… so they can target quality improvement resources to areas trainees and trainers are concerned about. We expect them to listen to what doctors have told us and to respond to the results.’

Despite the concerns about being forced to work beyond their competence out-of-hours, most GP trainees (85%) rated their overall training experience good or excellent.

Last month Health Education England announced that a record number of GP trainees had been recruited in 2018.

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