New research has shown medical graduates are poorly prepared for working on hospital wards.

Specialist registrars and consultants answered questionnaires on how new doctors performed across a range of skills such as communication, practical experience and prescribing.

A total of 107 questionnaires were returned by consultants and 121 were returned by specialist registrars. In eight of 11 topic areas, the study found junior doctors “were seen as not prepared for starting work, especially in regard to clinical and practical skills and the more challenging communication skills”.

The junior doctors were in their first year of a two year programme designed to bridge the gap between medical school and specialist or GP training.

Senior staff working at two teaching hospitals in the East Midlands were asked for their views in early 2007, when junior doctors had completed on average six of 12 months before becoming fully registered with the General Medical Council.

The results found that junior doctors were willing to ask for help from more experienced colleagues but lacked skills in other areas. These included working out appropriate drug dosages and recording outcomes accurately. The researchers, from Nottingham University Queens Medical Centre, said their findings backed up previous studies.