The General Medical Council (GMC) has warned that a 'state of unease' exists within the medical profession that could put both doctors and patients at risk, as services throughout the UK come under increased pressure.
In the the Council's new annual report on The state of medical education and practice in the UK, GMC chair Professor Terence Stephenson and Niall Dickson, its Chief Executive, say: "There is a state of unease within the medical profession across the UK that risks affecting patients as well as doctors. The reasons for this are complex and multifactorial, and some are longstanding. Yet the signals of distress are unmistakeable.
"There appears to be a general acceptance that the system cannot simply go on as before."
The report says that the GMC can help by making regulation as 'light touch as possible', reassuring trainees that they are valued doctors, and addressing the anger and frustration which has built up during the ongoing dispute in England between the BMA's Junior Doctors' Committee and the Government.
"There are a host of underlying non-contractual issues," the authors add, "some of them long standing, that have helped to create this dangerous level of alienation among the next generation of medical leaders. This should worry not just those of us close to the medical profession, but everyone concerned with the future of our healthcare system."
The report adds that work must continue to reform the way doctors' education and training is organised. The GMC says it also wants to play more of a role supporting those engaged in workforce planning – to make sure doctors have the right knowledge, skills and standard of behaviour to serve patient needs in the years ahead.
Despite the pressure on the medical profession, the GMC is keen to assure patients that the standard of care provided by doctors working in the UK remains among the best in the world. The GMC's data for 2015 shows that it received 7 percent fewer complaints about doctors compared to 2014 and the vast majority of doctors were not complained about to the GMC.