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Does UK medical education provide doctors with sufficient skills and knowledge to manage patients with eating disorders safely?
  1. Agnes Ayton1,
  2. Ali Ibrahim2
  1. 1 Cotswold House Oxford, Warneford Hospital, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford, UK
  2. 2 CroydonCAMHS, Christopher Wren House 113 High Street Croydon CR0 1QG, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Agnes Ayton, Cotswold House Oxford, Warneford Hospital, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford OX3 7JX, UK; agnes.ayton{at}oxfordhealth.nhs.uk

Abstract

Background Eating disorders affect 1%–4% of the population and they are associated with an increased rate of mortality and multimorbidity. Following the avoidable deaths of three people the parliamentary ombudsman called for a review of training for all junior doctors to improve patient safety.

Objective To review the teaching and assessment relating to eating disorders at all levels of medical training in the UK.

Method We surveyed all the UK medical schools about their curricula, teaching and examinations related to eating disorders in 2017. Furthermore, we reviewed curricula and requirements for annual progression (Annual Review of Competence Progression (ARCP)) for all relevant postgraduate training programmes, including foundation training, general practice and 33 specialties.

Main outcome measures Inclusion of eating disorders in curricula, time dedicated to teaching, assessment methods and ARCP requirements.

Results The medical school response rate was 93%. The total number of hours spent on eating disorder teaching in medical schools is <2 hours. Postgraduate training adds little more, with the exception of child and adolescent psychiatry. The majority of doctors are never assessed on their knowledge of eating disorders during their entire training, and only a few medical students and trainees have the opportunity to choose a specialist placement to develop their clinical skills.

Conclusions Eating disorder teaching is minimal during the 10–16 years of undergraduate and postgraduate medical training in the UK. Given the risk of mortality and multimorbidity associated with these disorders, this needs to be urgently reviewed to improve patient safety.

  • eating disorders
  • primary care
  • psychiatry
  • paediatrics

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Footnotes

  • Contributors Both authors equally contributed to this paper. AA and AI designed the study following a series of near-miss incidents. Both authors contributed to the data collection, analysis and writing the paper. Both authors revised it critically for important intellectual content and approved the final version for publication. Both authors agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Ethics approval The project was approved by Oxford Health Foundation Trust Audit and Quality Improvement Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement The data file is available on request from AA.

  • Correction notice This article has been corrected since it was publsihed Online First. The title has changed to read: ’Does UK medical education provide doctors with sufficient skills and knowledge to manage patients with eating disorders safely?'

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