RCoA Response to the GMC Report ‘The state of medical education and practice in the UK’

Dr Fiona Donald, President of the Royal College of Anaesthetists said: 

“The findings in the GMC report are stark. We are seeing more than one in 10 anaesthetists in training at high risk of burnout, a significant jump from 20201, with increasing numbers of doctors across all specialities reconsidering their career in the NHS and medicine altogether.

“Most operations cannot take place without an anaesthetist, so if the NHS is to address its record waiting lists, it needs enough anaesthetic staff. There is already a UK-wide shortfall of 1,400 anaesthetists and, if anaesthetists in training leave because of burnout or disillusionment, this is only going to make things worse. If the Government wants to tackle the backlog and fulfil its ambition to ‘build back better’, it urgently needs to address these concerns.

“However, it is not all doom and gloom, with nine out of 10 anaesthetists in training still reporting a good or very good training experience, which is a testament to the dedication of trainers and educators of the next generation of anaesthetists. It is paramount that in the rush to recover the healthcare service, our doctors in training and trainers are not neglected. Delivering an NHS with the ability to tackle the significant elective backlog is not just about doing procedures more quickly – it is also about the recovery of training. With more than half of anaesthetists in training saying they have struggled to replace opportunities missed during the pandemic, we need a renewed focus on training to build a sustainable healthcare service that will not only work to deliver for patients now but for generations to come.

“We know that the pandemic brought with it many challenges, but it has also shone a light on the innovation and adaptability of NHS staff and services. The improvements in teamwork, cross-speciality working and knowledge sharing highlighted in the GMC report must be maintained. We cannot afford to simply go back to business as usual: we must grasp these opportunities to learn, improve and build a truly sustainable healthcare service.”


  1. High risk of burnout amongst anaesthetists in training has increased from 8% in 2020 to 13% in 2021

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