Physician dissatisfaction in the workplace has consequences for patient safety. Currently in the UK, 1 in 5 doctors who enter specialist training in obstetrics and gynaecology leave the programme before completion. Trainee attrition has implications for workforce planning, organization of health-care services and patient care. The authors conducted a survey of current trainees' and former trainees' views concerning attrition and 'peri-attrition' - a term coined to describe the trainee who has seriously considered leaving the specialty. The authors identified six key themes which describe trainees' feelings about attrition in obstetrics and gynaecology: morale and undermining; training processes and paperwork; support and supervision; work-life balance and realities of life; NHS environment; and job satisfaction. This article discusses themes of an under-resourced health service, bullying, lack of work-life balance and poor personal support.