Commenting on the GMC report, Dr Camilla Kingdon, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said:
This year’s findings highlight the immense pressure paediatricians have faced over the last year as they continue to deal with the impact of COVID-19.
While trainees and trainers in paediatric posts stand out as being in a better position than other specialities with regards to burnout and workload, it remains the case that over 10 per cent of trainees are at risk of burnout.
Any level of burnout is deeply concerning and, on top of this, far too many are still experiencing potentially unsustainable workload levels. This is not only especially concerning for the paediatricians themselves, but also for children and the families they support.
There are some positives to welcome. It is incredibly pleasing to read that the quality of paediatric training remains high with well over three quarters of trainees rating the quality of teaching, supervision and experience as good or very good. This is testament to the commitment and hard work of educational and clinical supervisors and I commend them for this. I also welcome that those on paediatric speciality programmes were especially positive about virtual learning environments being used effectively to support training. This is a fantastic achievement.
This report also serves as a reminder that paediatrics, more so than most other specialities, has much higher numbers of less than full time trainees. I am delighted that so many of our trainees are able to take up the option to train less than full time. It is vital we continue to recognise initiatives to support these trainees and provide flexibility more generally.
As pressures continue to intensify over winter, this report serves as a stark reminder that we must recognise the toll these challenges continue to have on health and wellbeing of the paediatric and child health workforce. We urgently need an evidence-based workforce plan, backed by investment, to map the staff shortages and start tackling them so that we can ensure paediatricians are properly supported and can offer the best care for children and young people.