One in three trainee doctors report bullying

Survey of junior medics finds bullying rates three times higher than the UK


The first national survey of trainee doctors has found most are happy with their training, but in one-in-three has suffered bullying.

The ’Your Training Counts’ report was commissioned by the Medical Council and involved 1,636 trainee doctors who responded to approximately 100 questions. The number who responded constitute approximately half of the trainee doctors in Ireland.

There was a dramatic difference in incidences of bullying between the UK and Ireland. Some 33.7 per cent of Irish trainee doctors reported bullying or harassment in their post in comparison with 13.4 per cent in the UK.

Medical Council chief executive Caroline Spillane said the UK had been dealing with bullying in the medical workplace for many years. “The UK has taken a number of measures to address the problem but that only happened after they decided to measure the prevalence first.”

The Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said he did not personally experience bullying as a trainee doctor but he acknowledged hospitals can be stressful places. “Senior colleagues are not always as supportive as they might be, but that is not peculiar to medicine.”

Some 85 per cent of trainees reported the quality of care provided at the clinical site as “good” or “very good”.

Areas of the clinical learning environment rated highly were “consultants/GPs role”, “teamwork” and “peer collaboration”.

Weaknesses included the attributes of “feedback”, “professional relations between consultants” and “role of the educational supervisor”.

However, the research found levels of satisfaction with training and supervision lagged behind levels in both the UK and the Netherlands where similar surveys have been carried out.

Though nine in 10 trainees completing speciality training felt they had been well prepared for their next role, approximately three in 10 interns reported that their previous medical education and training did not prepare them well for intern training.

The prevalence of this issue among trainees in Ireland is two to three times greater than among their UK counterparts.

The survey found 55 per cent of trainees who are going on to intern in hospitals said there was either a minor or major lack of preparation for their intern year. The equivalent figure in the UK is 26 per cent.

A second Your Training Counts report will be published early in 2015 and will look in detail at career intentions, emigration and the health of trainees.