Risk of burnout in ophthalmology trainees more than doubles

A new GMC report has found the proportion of ophthalmology trainees at risk of burnout increased from 5% in 2019 to 13% in 2021

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A new report from the General Medical Council that surveyed medical trainees and trainers in the UK has highlighted the pressure facing ophthalmology as the pandemic continues.

The survey, which was carried out in summer 2021, found that overall ophthalmologists in training were happy with their experience – rating the quality of supervision, teaching and experience higher than other medical specialties.

However, the proportion of ophthalmology trainees at risk of burnout has risen significantly, from 5% in 2019 to 13% in 2021.

Of all doctors surveyed, close to one in four (23%) said they were planning to leave the profession.

The impact of the pandemic on training was explored through the research, with half of ophthalmology trainees stating that they had not been able to compensate for missed training through transferable skills.

Slightly more than half (53%) reported that they were not given opportunities to backfill competencies missed due to the pandemic.

Sunil Mamtora, chair of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists’ Ophthalmologists in Training Group, shared that trainees have gone above and beyond during the pandemic, often at the expense of their own training and wellbeing.

“The focus now needs to be on making up for lost time and putting training as the top priority,” he said.

AOP chief executive, Adam Sampson, highlighted that healthcare systems are facing unprecedented levels of pressure as a result of the pandemic.

“It’s vital that ophthalmology departments, and those in training, feel supported to carry out their role to provide high-quality patient eye care," he said.

"Our highly skilled workforce is well placed to provide additional clinical support and free up capacity in the NHS by delivering eye care outside of hospitals. Throughout the pandemic, optometrists have consistently provided community services that are easy, convenient and mean patients receive the care they need and deserve,” he emphasised.