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RCEM responds to shocking GMC National Training Survey

12 July 2023

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine has called new research which details the scale of mistreatment experienced by doctors in training as ‘difficult and upsetting to read’.

Yesterday (11 July 2023) the General Medical Council (GMC) published its National Training Survey which sought the views of more than 70,000 doctors in training and trainers across the UK.

It found:

  • More than a quarter of doctors in training say they have experienced micro-aggressions, negative comments, or oppressive body language from colleagues.
    • In the Emergency Medicine specialty those who have experienced these poor behaviours rose to one third.
  • More than one in 10 trainee doctors reported they had felt ‘intentionally humiliated’ in front of others.
  • More than one in five of foundation trainees said they’d been blamed for something they didn’t do in their current post.
  • Only six in 10 said they would feel confident about reporting discrimination without fear of adverse consequences.

Despite the negatives large numbers of trainees rated their clinical supervision (86%) and quality of teaching (74%) highly, and eight out of 10 said they had a good or very good experience in their post.

While these ratings are positive, two-thirds of all trainees are at high or moderate risk of burnout, the highest this metric has recorded. Emergency Medicine has the highest level, with more than one third of EM trainees at high-risk of burnout.

Dr Lara Somerset and Dr Hannah Baird, co-chairs of the UK’s Emergency Medicine Trainees Association (EMTA), said:

“This report is bittersweet, there are some positives to be proud of, but the negatives heavily overshadow them and make for difficult reading. Sadly, some of the findings are not entirely unsurprising either.

“Micro-aggressions, blame culture, humiliation, discrimination and other poor and negative behaviours are deplorable and completely unacceptable in Emergency Medicine and the NHS. EMTA and the College have zero tolerance for any such behaviour.

“EMTA is working with the College and its RespectED campaign, taking action to tackle bullying, harassment and undermining behaviours and to equip our members and healthcare workers to speak up and challenge these behaviours and toxic cultures.

“To see the prevalence of these experiences shows how far the NHS still has to go to tackle toxic behaviours and culture and wider discrimination.

“No-one goes to work to be mistreated, if unaddressed these highly skilled and competent trainees may feel they have no option but to leave, compounding wider, pre-existing workforce issues in Emergency Medicine and the NHS as a whole.

“NHS Trusts and Boards across the UK need to ensure trainees are protected and supported. Trainees must have no fear in raising issues such as these or concern about colleagues.

“It is also deeply concerning to read that over one third of EM trainees are at a high-risk of burnout. Emergency Departments can be very stressful and hostile places to work within and assurances must be made that departments, trainers, trusts and supporting organisations will provide adequate support for anyone struggling.”

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