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GMC report calls for urgent action to tackle workforce crisis

  • Date: 23 June 2023

UNMANAGEABLE workloads, dissatisfaction and burnout have created a "vicious cycle" that is causing UK doctors to take steps to leave the profession, the General Medical Council (GMC) warns in a new report.

Findings from The state of medical education and practice in the UK 2023 show a rise in the number of doctors who reported working beyond their rostered hours on a weekly basis from 59 per cent in 2021 to 70 per cent in 2022.

Survey results also found that 42 per cent said they felt unable to cope with their workload each week (up from 30 per cent in 2021) and just half said they were satisfied in their work (down from 70 per cent in 2021).

The regulator says doctors are changing their working patterns, places of work or even re-thinking their careers because they increasingly feel unable to cope and it calls for urgent action.

The report states that in the short term more needs to be done to ensure doctors feel valued by their employers. Developing better and more consistent induction and onboarding must be a priority, along with flexible rota design that takes account of doctors’ personal circumstances and life events.

Providing workplace rest and refreshment facilities is also crucial.

Longer-term priorities include making work intensity more sustainable, increasing training capacity and strengthening support for primary care.

Dr Naeem Nazem, head of medical at MDDUS, commented: "This report is profoundly depressing. Doctors are being asked to help rebuild the health service after Covid-19, but it seems what’s needed first is a clear plan on how to help burnt-out, dissatisfied doctors rebuild their confidence in the NHS.

"If this does not happen, the ongoing breakdown in doctors’ physical and emotional wellbeing will escalate the retention crisis and place further strain on health services, risking patient safety.

“The report shows that amongst some groups of doctors, one-in-four are taking active steps to leave their profession.

"Worryingly 75 per cent of non-UK graduate doctors, who make up a substantial and important part of the NHS, said they did not feel supported by their immediate colleagues.

"We recognise that the NHS across the UK has many challenges caused by many varied issues. However, this report from the GMC must be a clarion call to NHS leaders to make workforce planning their top priority. A good starting point for this would be to see the Health Secretary, Steve Barclay, publish the UK government’s much-delayed NHS workforce plan."

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