Hospital Dr News

Royal college warns of winter crisis having negative impact on doctors in training

A royal college is warning that winter pressures are in danger of compromising juniors’ training and delaying their progress to consultant status.

Professor Jackie Taylor, the President of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, says that unless urgent action is taken to improve resources too many doctors are being diverted from their substantive training roles.

In correspondence to the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, Professor Taylor warns that doctors are having to address short-term winter demands in the health service.

If these junior doctors not undertake enough training hours, she warns, they will be delayed in taking up consultancy posts in the future at a time when consultant shortages are having a material impact on NHS services in Scotland.

In the letter, the senior doctor sets out at set of principles which should underpin the deployment of doctors in training when hospitals adopt plans to address peaks in demand over the winter period.

It says: ‘We remain concerned that while understandably the primary focus for this work has been to address the short-term issues of demand for NHS services, there are potential unintended consequences of such an approach, of which we should be cognisant.

‘Our College believes that plans to alleviate winter pressures should not be prioritised at the expense of the professional requirements of doctors in training. At this time of mounting workforce pressures, we are concerned that short-term decisions may have an adverse effect on training, and therefore on the long-term expansion of consultant numbers.

‘Our College is aware of situations where the training period for doctors in training, particularly in surgical specialties, has been unilaterally extended as a result of local winter planning arrangements. This is of particular concern, in that such action will have a tangible impact on future consultant numbers at a time when the health service is already facing consultant shortages in a number of specialties.’

The college says a set of principles should underpin the deployment of doctors in training.

These include proper clinical supervision, recognition in training portfolios, and the arrangements being agreed with the Local Postgraduate Dean.

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