Bullying a significant concern among medical trainees

  • Date: 06 December 2013

OVER one in 10 trainee doctors report being bullied in the workplace according to the 2013 annual national training survey conducted by the GMC.

In the survey of 54,000 doctors in training in the UK, 13.2 per cent of respondents said that they had been victims of bullying and harassment in their posts and 19.5 per cent had witnessed someone else being bullied.

Over a quarter of respondents (26.5 per cent) also experienced "undermining behaviour" from a senior colleague, with doctors in obstetrics and gynaecology most affected. Doctors in years four to seven of specialty training were more likely to report undermining than those in foundation or core training.

In its report on the findings the GMC reiterates that undermining or bullying behaviour is in total contradiction with its values regarding respect for colleagues as set out in Good Medical Practice. "It is more than a simple failure to comply. Serious or persistent failure to follow our guidance puts a doctor’s registration at risk."

The National training survey 2013 also found that 2,746 survey respondents (5.2 per cent) raised a concern about patient safety. More than half of patient safety concerns raised by doctors in training relate to a lack of staffing or resources (61.4 per cent), with a significant number related to problems with patient management (29.9 per cent) or processes of care (26.4 per cent).

Doctors near the start of their training are much more likely to raise concerns than those in the later stages of training – 8.7 per cent in the first year of foundation training (F1) versus 2.8 per cent in the year eight of specialty training (ST8). This was also true of GPs at the start of training compared to those near the end of their programmes.

The report comments: "These figures reinforce Robert Francis QC’s suggestion that doctors in training are ‘not likely to be immediately infected by any unhealthy local culture’. His suggestion is further supported by the fact that doctors training in a post that is not their main specialty are far more likely to raise a concern."

Commenting on the results of the national training survey, Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the GMC, said: "These findings highlight the importance of listening to young doctors working on the front line of clinical care. They support what Robert Francis said - that doctors in training are invaluable eyes and ears for what is happening at the front line of patient care.

"They also suggest that more needs to be done to support these doctors and to build the positive supportive culture that is so essential to patient safety. The best care is always given by professional who are supported and encouraged."

This page was correct at the time of publication. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.

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