One in five trainee doctors ‘may need mental health support’

Medical Council survey: Significant minority of trainees struggling with quality of life

Trainees who reported working longer hours and bullying were more likely to have poorer health and wellbeing

Trainees who reported working longer hours and bullying were more likely to have poorer health and wellbeing


Twenty per cent of doctors training for senior posts may be in need of support for mental health issues, a survey by the Medical Council has found.

Trainees who reported experiencing bullying and those who worked longer hours were more likely to have poorer health and wellbeing.

Some 29 per cent of trainees felt they need to access support services for their health and wellbeing but the vast majority didn’t actually do so, according to the survey.

The report by the Medical Council says a small but significant minority of trainees are clearly struggling to maintain good quality of life and mental health and wellbeing.

However, almost 90 per cent said their health was good or better, and reported good levels of engagement with their work. The report says this is a testament to their dedication and help protect against burnout.

Almost 20 per cent of trainees described their quality of life as poor; those in bigger teaching hospitals were more likely to report an inferior quality of life.

The report says hospitals appear to present particular challenges to maintaining good health and wellbeing.

“This report finds a strong, significant and consistent link between the experience of bullying and undermining and poorer health and wellbeing among trainees,” it says.

It says there is a role for training organisations to ensure self-awareness and self-care are fostered to help trainees maintain good health and wellbeing. “But a wider response involving policy-makers and healthcare organisations is required to ensure that the clinical environments where trainees work and learn are designed and managed to prevent unnecessary challenges for trainee health and wellbeing so problems are prevented,” it says.

Caroline Spillane, chief executive of the Medical Council, said: “Doctors in training need support to maintain good health and wellbeing in the interest of patient care through building awareness of these issues and skills for appropriate self-care into medical education and training curricula.

“There is ample evidence to show that doctors with good health provide safer and more effective care to patients, are more engaged in their work, have better attendance, and are less likely to experience burnout and compassion fatigue.”

More than 1,600 medical interns and specialist trainees contributed to the survey.