Call for trainees at all private ops on NHS patients

Every planned operation on an NHS patient, including those being seen in an independent hospital, should include a surgical trainee to help them get the training time they have missed out on.  

Miss Fiona Myint

That is the message from Royal College of Surgeons of England vice-president Miss Fiona Myint in the wake of the GMC’s annual report on The state of medical education and practice in the UK. 

She said: ‘This report by the GMC highlights the detrimental effect the pandemic has had on doctors’ training and their working environments. It also shows the impact Covid-19 has had on recruitment, retention and patient care. 

‘The report’s findings on the disruption to surgical training echo concerns we outlined in our New Deal for Surgery report in May 2021. It is very worrying that more than half (53%) of surgical trainees felt they had not been able to compensate for lost training opportunities and 25% felt they were not on course to progress towards curriculum competencies. 

‘Surgical trainees must be supported to catch up on missed training opportunities as soon as possible, with bespoke programmes of training that include enhanced theatre time’. 

Miss Myint said the college was also concerned by statistics showing:

  • 30% of doctors often felt unable to cope with their workload – up from 19% in 2020;
  • 17% are at high risk of burnout – up from 10% in 2020;
  • 23% said they were planning to leave the profession – up from 19% in 2020. 

She added: ‘Staff well-being and retention should be at the forefront of plans to recover services. We have joined more than 60 organisations to call for an amendment to the Health and Care Bill to strengthen workforce planning and accountability. This is to ensure we are training enough NHS staff now to meet patient demand in future.’

The GMC report warns that high workloads which jeopardise patients and leave doctors burnt out mean a fresh mindset is needed on how healthcare teams work together.

It says long-standing staffing and service culture issues have been made worse by the impact of Covid-19. And positive experiences many doctors had during 2020 have not all been maintained into the pandemic’s second year.

The report says that, despite current pressures, now is the time to retain and embed positive changes to ways of working that were a key part of UK health services’ initial response to coronavirus.

Otherwise, it warns, exhaustion and disillusionment will grow even more rapidly and more doctors will quit the profession, blunting the effects of initiatives to boost recruitment.