‘Worrying’ number of trainee doctors face workplace discrimination, GMC survey shows

  • Date: 14 July 2023

MORE than a quarter of trainee doctors have faced discrimination at work, a report by the General Medical Council has revealed.

The regulator’s annual national training survey found 28 per cent of trainees said they had heard insults, stereotyping or jokes relating to their or another person’s protected characteristics in their post. This number rose to 38 per cent for foundation trainees.

The survey was completed by more than 70,000 UK doctors who are either in training or act as trainers. For the first time it included questions about discrimination, uncovering “worrying insights” into trainees’ experiences.

More than one in 10 trainee doctors reported they had felt “intentionally humiliated” in front of others, while one in five (22 per cent) foundation trainees said they had been blamed for something they didn’t do.

Burnout levels also showed an increase. Across the UK, two thirds of trainees are now at high or moderate risk of burnout, the highest level since the GMC started tracking this in 2018.

But overall, the majority of doctors (86 per cent) were positive about their clinical supervision and 83 per cent said they had a good experience in their post. More than three-quarters (77 per cent) said that staff, including fellow trainees, always treat each other with respect.

The GMC’s Medical Director and Director of Education and Standards Professor Colin Melville said: “Though it’s encouraging to see the majority of trainees report supportive workplaces, there are worrying findings which suggest doctors early in their careers are having a much more negative experience.

“Discrimination doesn’t just affect individuals, it impacts teamwork, communication and potentially patient safety.”

He emphasised that it was “essential” that those who witness or experience discrimination are supported to speak up.

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