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GMC trainee survey highlights safety concerns

Junior doctors leaders have insisted that patient safety concerns raised by trainees must be fully investigated.

The call came in response to the GMC’s annual survey of trainees, which finds that one in 20 junior doctors has concerns about patient safety, particularly in the acute specialties. This was the first time that the survey had specifically asked about patient safety.

The national training survey 2012, which had 51,000 respondents, shows that 80 per cent of junior doctors rate their training as either excellent or good – a rise of 2 per cent from last year.

However, the survey highlights inconsistencies in the quality of patient handover before and after night duty, with one in four respondents describing handover as either informal or not in place.

Inductions at doctors’ workplaces, which include information about roles and responsibilities, are labelled fair, poor or very poor by one in three trainees.

One in seven respondents said they had felt forced to cope with clinical problems beyond their competence or experience, while nearly one in three reported that they rarely or never had informal feedback from senior clinicians on how they were doing in their posts.

Important feedback

BMA junior doctors committee joint deputy chair Ben Molyneux said the survey provided important feedback on trainees’ education and training, and welcomed the inclusion of questions about patient safety.

He said: ‘Approximately one in 20 trainees have raised patient safety concerns, and this represents a huge number of potential issues that must be fully investigated.

‘Junior doctors have unique insights into departments due to frequent rotations. Hopefully, employers and the GMC will use this information to improve patient safety and care.’

Dr Molyneux said the findings on handovers were ‘unacceptable’, and arrangements needed to be improved.

He said: ‘We hope that the GMC takes this issue seriously, and acts swiftly on the matter.’

Continuing pressure

GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said: ‘We need to study the results in more detail, but the early signs are that we are continuing to see pressure on doctors in key specialties, and this cannot be good for them or their patients.

‘We will do all we can to work closely with those at local level who have the responsibility for managing and delivering training for these doctors, to address these issues.’

This year, 95 per cent of UK trainees responded to the online survey, which is the highest response rate since the first survey in 2005.

Read the key findings.

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