GP training highly rated but 1 in 3 forced to work beyond competence

GP trainees are more satisfied in their training than their secondary care counterparts, a national survey has found, but over one in three say they have had to work beyond their competence in GP posts.

Nearly all (91%) GP trainees rate their training as good or very good, while less than three quarters (73%) of those in secondary care posts say the same, according to the GMC’s 2017 national training survey.

But it found that a third (37%) of GP trainees have felt forced to cope with problems beyond their competence or experience at some point during their general practice placements.

Some 8% of GP trainees overall said they experienced this feeling on at least a monthly basis, with half of these (4% overall) reporting that they felt this way daily or weekly.

But this compares to over 9% of secondary care trainees who report feeling this way daily or weekly.

GP trainees

The GMC report said trainees were ‘perhaps not surprisingly’ more likely to report regularly feeling this way earlier on in their training.

‘Doctors feel more confident as they progress through the training pathway,’ it added.

Two fifths (58%) of GP trainees said they had never felt this way and 5% said it was not applicable.

The GMC data also found that a third of medical trainers struggled to find enough time to carry out the role properly. GMC chief executive Charlie Massey said: ‘Trainers are the backbone of medical education, and more must be done to value them and to give them the support they need.

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

‘We mustn’t take the continued high quality of medical training across the UK for granted, and we cannot afford to lose the services of trainers by abusing their dedication and goodwill.’

Burnout risk

BMA Scotland warned that the findings show there is still more work to be done on reducing junior doctor fatigue.

Chair of BMA Scotland’s junior doctors committee Dr Adam Collins said: ‘The findings of this survey show that junior doctors are regularly sleep deprived and that work is needed to mitigate the effects of this fatigue, as well as making improvements so that junior doctors are properly rested.

‘Fatigue can pose significant risks both to patients and to doctors themselves and it is essential that we do more to address this issue.

‘Relatively simple changes would make a significant impact, improving both safety and the working lives of junior doctors.’

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