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Doctors’ leaders welcome improvements for junior doctors

HEE report highlights better appraisals and more flexibility for junior doctors

Adrian O'Dowd

Friday, 01 June 2018

The working lives of junior doctors in the NHS have been improved with an enhanced recruitment process and the introduction of more flexible training opportunities, according to a new report* from Health Education England (HEE).

HEE has set out some of the achievements made as part of progress made with its Enhancing Junior Doctors’ Working Lives programme in a new report.

The improvements have come as a result of feedback from doctors in training who have highlighted issues involving their training and working environment, said HEE.

The report provides updates on a number of initiatives and guarantees that the BMA has been seeking since 2016.

Two years ago, the BMA identified a number of issues during junior doctors’ contract negotiations that were not able to be resolved through discussions with NHS Employers. These covered a range of areas from flexibility, late notification of rotas, a distinct lack of support for education and more.

This latest progress report provides an update on the work that HEE has completed with partners including the BMA, medical royal colleges and GMC over the past year in response to the concerns doctors in training have raised and to help boost morale.

Key achievements highlighted in the report include:

  • making the recruitment process more flexible, so doctors in training can plan better for a work/life balance, or personal requirements related to their health or caring responsibilities
  • promoting flexible working – through the Less Than Full-Time Training (LTFT) pilot, and developing a flexible portfolio training
  • supported Return to Training reforms – helping doctors get back up to speed when they return to training after time out
  • greater transparency over study budgets and a larger breadth of access to courses required by the curriculum.
Professor Wendy Reid, director of education and quality and medical director at HEE, said: “I am delighted with the excellent progress made and outlined in this new report. It is important that we continue to empower doctors in training to voice their concerns regarding their training environment and act on them.

“This report details the significant progress we have made over the last year. However, we are not complacent and recognise that there is still much to be done. This work is a key priority for HEE.”

Over the next year, the main focus of work will be educational supervision and looking at what more can be done to help tackle bullying and harassment.

In a joint statement, Dr Jeeves Wijesuriya, BMA junior doctors committee chair, and Dr Sarah Hallett, BMA junior doctors committee deputy co-chair (education and training), said: “We welcome the publication of this report; the work that this committee has overseen since the inception of these projects during the junior doctor contract dispute two years ago has contributed to some of the most significant changes to postgraduate medical training for a number of years.

“While it is clear that many issues still exist, including with educational supervision, diminishing mentorship, and the ever-greater demands of a system under pressure, it is positive that this work has received the investment, time and collaborative working to bring about change.”

Professor Carrie MacEwen, chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, said: “It is good to see the progress that has been made by Health Education England and other stakeholders across a whole series of initiatives. This important work will not only benefit doctors in training but also patients and the wider health service.”

*Enhancing working lives. A report prepared by NHS Education England, 2018.

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