The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (“the College”) has given its reaction following the publication of the GMC's National Training Survey 2023.

The regulator’s annual national training survey was completed by more than 70,000 doctors across the UK who are either in training or act as trainers. It included questions on discrimination for the first time this year.

Professor Andrew Elder, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, said:

There are many positives in this report and it is gratifying- and a real tribute to our trainers- that almost three quarters of trainees rate the quality of their teaching as either good or very good while over 80% said they had a good or very good experience in their post.

But we are deeply concerned that over half of our trainers and 66% of our trainees are judged to be at high or moderate risk of “burnout” - the highest levels since the GMC began collecting this information. The College has consistently warned that doctors who are asked to provide training need to have the time to do so. That means having space in their job plans that allows them to teach, supervise and mentor trainees to the standard we all wish to see.  

Doctors want to teach and train those who will provide care in the future. When the constraints of their job prevent them from doing so we know it can cause “moral distress” and “burnout” in the same way that lack of time to care for patients can do.

Time is the most valuable commodity in clinical medicine. The absence of time in our current NHS environment is the root of many of our current challenges. We need to change that environment. If we don’t, recruitment and retention will falter further, rota gaps will deepen and ultimately patient safety will suffer. Scotland, and the UK, has a strong reputation for the quality of its medical training – we cannot let that reputation decline.

Finally, whilst many will welcome the inclusion of additional questions about workplace discrimination in this year’s survey, none will be content with the answers. It is alarming that almost one third of trainees had experienced or witnessed micro-aggressions in relation to protected characteristics. We consider such unprofessional and discriminatory behaviour completely unacceptable. Surveys of this sort help, but we believe that it is also important for our trainees to be able to raise their concerns in a supportive atmosphere where issues will be investigated fairly and promptly.


The GMC's statement on this year's annual survey and the survey itself can be accessed here: NTS 2023 Workplace discrimination affects worrying number of trainee doctors GMC survey reveals - GMC (

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