Half of GP trainees face problems 'beyond their competence'

More than half of GP trainees have felt forced to cope with clinical problems beyond their competence or experience in their current post, a GMC survey shows.

GMC chief executive Niall Dickson: satisfaction with training rising
GMC chief executive Niall Dickson: satisfaction with training rising

More than 50,000 doctors in training took part in the GMC’s National Training Survey 2013, including almost 6,000 GP trainees.

Of all medical trainees, GPs report the highest levels of satisfaction with their training. A total of 87.9% of GP trainees reported their training was ‘excellent’ or ‘good’, compared with 80.8% across all specialties.

But findings from the poll reveal that GP trainees are regularly working beyond their contracted hours, and in some cases feel they have been pushed beyond their competence or been denied adequate supervision.

A total of 50.4% of GP trainees said they had felt ‘forced to cope with clinical problems beyond your competence or experience’ at some stage in their current post. Of these, one in five said this occurred daily, weekly or monthly. The rest said it had happened, but only 'rarely'.

One in eight GP trainees say they have been supervised by someone they felt was not up to the job at some point during their training, the findings show.

A third of GP trainees (34.3%) rated the intensity of their workload as ‘heavy’ or ‘very heavy’.

Many reported working beyond their contracted hours – 13.8% said this happened daily, 29.6% weekly and 8.7% monthly. Only 13.6% said this had never happened to them.

GPC negotiator Dr Peter Holden said trainees should feel supported, but it was unsurprising that they sometimes feel stretched beyond their limits.

‘I felt that during my GP training,’ he said. ‘With all training there is an element that if you don’t know where your limits are, you have to find them. As long as you have supervision, it’s OK.’

He added: ‘If they are genuinely not being supported that is not acceptable. But there are some trainees that are holding on to mummy’s apron strings for too long.

‘If they are not up to flying the nest, clinically their mother has to shoot them. If they have a CCT they should be capable, and will know where their limits are and seek help.’

GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said: ‘Almost 98% of doctors in training have told us about their experiences and we are greatly encouraged by the continued increase in satisfaction with their training.

‘Doctors in training provide frontline care to patients so it is vital that we use these results to make sure their training environment continues to improve and to be safe for patients.’

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