Hospital Dr News

Junior doctors would abandon O&G if proposed contract is implemented, survey says

Imposing a new contract could lead to a huge loss of junior doctors from the specialty of obstetrics and gynaecology (O&G) and put pressure on hospitals’ ability to provide vital out-of-hours care for women and their babies.

This is the key finding of a national survey of O&G juniors on the government’s recent contract offer, and shows the depth of concern regarding the changes.

The survey was carried out by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) National Trainees Committee which is a body that represents all O&G trainees in the UK.

Key findings include:

– 97% of O&G trainees unhappy with proposed contract

– Only 34% of trainees plan to complete their training if new contract imposed (compared with 90% if no changes are made)

– A third (34%) of trainees would look abroad for work

– 21% would leave the profession altogether

Obstetrics and gynaecology are high intensity emergency specialties and junior doctors already provide seven-day care.

There are currently 1,600 O&G junior doctors in the UK whose responsibilities include caring for women throughout pregnancy and childbirth as well as treating many women’s health conditions.

Junior doctors in O&G are required to complete a seven-year training programme (ST1-ST7) before qualification.

In a reflection of the recent BMA ballot, 97% of O&G trainees answered that they are unhappy with the current contract proposal.

Juniors would abandon O&G

Only 25% of ST1-2 doctors plan to continue training in the specialty if the new contract comes in at the start of August 2016.

Dr Matthew Prior, a junior doctor at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust and Chair of the RCOG Trainees’ Committee, said: “This loss of junior doctors in our speciality would have a huge impact on the care received by women in our country in both the short and long term.

“The majority of out-of-hours care in the UK is led by junior doctors and the survey confirmed this, with most units relying on junior doctors (41%) or a combined tier of junior and senior registrars (34%) to provide emergency care. Only 9% of units have a resident consultant at all times.

“When taken in the context of one in five training posts going unfilled and a drop-out rate of 18% this new contract may seriously compromise the vital around the clock care needed by women in this country as well as create a recruitment and retention crisis of a worrying scale.

“We are glad that the Department of Health has agreed to conciliatory talks with the BMA via mediation but we continue to urge to Secretary of State to drop the threat of imposition of contract changes, firstly avert the impending industrial action, but also to find a solution to the contract changes which does not risk jeopardising the future of our workforce.”

All levels of junior doctors were represented in the survey. Those in the first two years of speciality training (ST1-2) made up 24% of respondents, junior registrars (ST3-5) were the largest group at 51% and senior registrars (ST6-7) made up the remaining 22%.

There were 521 responses collected from a total of 1,600 trainees.

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