RCSEd Trainees Committee respond to GMC’s “State of medical education and practice in the UK”

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27 Nov 2020

Responding to the publication of the GMC’s “State of medical education and practice in the UK”, Haroon Rehman, Chair of the Trainees Committee of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh said:

Staggering numbers reported in the recent GMC publication but sadly not unexpected.  During these unprecedented times the surgical workforce has faced new challenges.  The cancellation of elective surgery, reduction in operating capacity and widespread redeployment of surgeons has impacted both patient care and delivery of surgical training.

Trainees have undoubtedly experienced exceptionally high levels of stress and strain in both their personal and professional lives.   High proportions of trainees cited stress, bullying and workplace culture as reasons for leaving the profession.  There are concerns over graded progression and opportunity to practice the craft of surgery.  Surgery is after all a perishable skill in those early years.  The report also highlights the need for a concerted effort to support our BAME colleagues.  Surgery is team sport and we all need to promote local team building, or risk losing the best people. 

Going forward, it is going to be important to establish educational recovery programmes across the country. The development of innovative, online resources, which our college continues to provide, has been one of the silver linings of this miserable episode.   There has been high uptake of virtual learning via web-based tutorial as a replacement for local face-to-face teaching, generally using personal time.  I believe there is immense training opportunity in service provision, but equally trainees are entitled to some time and space to learn theory during contracted hours.  When the dust has settled, regional training committees must work hard to restore such sessions.

Endurance and the ability to adapt are some of the greatest strengths of our profession.  Please embrace the duty of care for your colleagues as well as your patients, and please take care of yourselves.  The mental and physical demands of this year have been substantial, but I am certain we’ll emerge from it as better doctors and surgeons.

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