There is a widespread perception that trainees in medicine in the UK are ‘not as good as they used to be’ and reduction in hours of training is often cited as one cause. However, there are no data on the current experience of medical trainees in general medicine. The experience of foundation year doctors (FY1/2) and core medical trainees (CTs) in the management of 10 common medical conditions, eight common medical procedures and other aspects of medical training were collected by national survey in 2011. Trainees reported finding out-of-hours care the best setting for acute general medical experience and that the medical registrar was a key part of training. There was a significant lack of experience in both the management of medical conditions and the use of common procedures. These results highlight the challenges in general medical training and show that there is substantial room for improvement.