19 July 2022
Responding to the 2022 national training survey published by The General Medical Council, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Dr Katherine Henderson said:
“This survey makes for grim reading. One in three EM trainees are at a high-risk of burnout, two thirds of trainers in EM felt their work frustrated them to a high or very high degree, both trainers and trainees in EM gave the most negative responses to questions in the survey. While nearly 80% of EM trainees rated the intensity of their work as ‘heavy’ or ‘very heavy’. However, it is positive to see nine out of 10 trainees rate their clinical supervision as good or very good, and to see nine out of 10 trainers reporting they enjoy their training role.
“The College is committed to education and we recognise the importance of training and clinical supervision, particularly one-on-one time. We want our trainers to feel valued, to do so they need to focus on training and education. And we want out trainees to have the time they need to fully learn and develop. The statistics on burnout and the current pressures facing Emergency Care are huge threats to both trainers and trainees and their ability to supervise or learn.
“This survey comes one year on from our own Retain, Recruit, Recover Report (July 2021) which found high levels of burnout, stress and exhaustion among staff, who were consequently considering reducing their hours or taking a career break in the next two years. This shows that over the past year, pressures have continued to rise and have severely impacted Emergency Medicine staff. Burnout and distress are increasing among our members and the EM workforce, they continue to be stretched beyond their means, unable to deliver optimal care to patients in a highly pressurised environment. This, in turn, is having a significant impact on our trainees learning time.
“Staff are reaching the end of their tether, for many senior staff it is the worst it has ever been, for trainees it is completely unsustainable. Resilience, adrenaline, and goodwill will only take you so far. Many are already burnt out, 44% of respondents to the GMC survey said they were regularly exhausted in the morning at the thought of another day of work.
“The pressure on Emergency Care feels insurmountable, and we know it will increase as we head towards winter. The government need to recognise the unsustainable pressures facing the workforce. In the short-term, we urgently need a meaningful plan for social care that recruits, retains and values social care workers – this will help alleviate some pressure on Emergency Care by encouraging timely discharge of patients and flow throughout the hospital. But crucially, the government must deliver the fully funded workforce plan it promised that includes measures to retain existing staff as well as recruit new staff. Inaction may lead to an exodus of hard-working dedicated Emergency Medicine staff.”
Notes to editor
GMC National Training survey results: https://www.gmc-uk.org/education/how-we-quality-assure-medical-education-and-training/evidence-data-and-intelligence/national-training-surveys/national-training-survey-results-14072022
RCEM: Retain, Recruit, Recover: https://rcem.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Retain_Recruit_Recover.pdf