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Young doctors call for urgent medical workforce review

'Maintain training opportunities' urge junior doctors at annual conference

OnMedica Staff

Monday, 10 May 2010

A cavalier attitude towards training opportunities for junior doctors will not be tolerated.

This is the message from the BMA junior doctors committee, which met for its annual conference in London over the weekend.

BMA junior doctors committee chair Shree Datta told the conference that compliance with the European Working Time Directive had been ‘fractured at best, with an increase in anti-social rotas’.

"There is no doubt in trainees’ minds that this [the EWTD] is adversely affecting the number of training opportunities available, with over half of trainees expressing concern," said Dr Datta, adding: "The inquiry into problems at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust emphasised the important role of education and training and, as training influences patient safety in the future, it is clear that a cavalier attitude towards our training cannot and will not be tolerated."

The conference was told that employers must engage with trainees to ensure rotas are compliant and training opportunities maintained.

And Dr Datta called on the incoming government to stop the erosion of training for doctors and safeguard the quality of the NHS medical workforce.

“The NHS prides itself, quite rightly, on its highly trained staff, but the quality of doctors it produces depends on the quality of training provided.

"Alarmingly, our training is now under threat on many fronts. By the 20 billion pounds worth of efficiency savings – politician speak for cuts; by the understaffed rotas one in four of us now have to work on; by a haphazard review of training funding and by the fractured implementation of the 48 hour week," she said.

Dr Datta also highlighted research that shows 4 in 10 junior doctors are working on understaffed rotas and that they are increasingly working more anti-social hours, in which training opportunities are scarce.

“Working extra shifts to prop up understaffed rotas means less time to learn new procedures, less time to practice our skills, less time to learn and less time to become better doctors. Without proper training junior doctors will not be able to gather the skills, experience and knowledge needed to be the GPs and consultants of tomorrow," she said.

Dr Datta called for an urgent review of the medical workforce.

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