The BMA and NHS Employers have published joint guidance on champions of flexible training. This will be an important tool for champions in standing up for LTFT (less than full time trainee) doctors in the workplace.
Read the guidance
The champion of flexible training role arose as a recommendation from the ACAS talks accompanying the 2016 junior doctors’ contract negotiations. Following the 2018 review of this contract, the BMA and NHS Employers agreed to make the role a contractual requirement. The intention of this is to encourage a shift in NHS culture towards flexibility for trainees, and to support them as they carry out training alongside health requirements and other commitments.
Contractual provisions and related guidance
The appointment process for this role is now written into the contract for trainees in England (the 2016 TCS), meaning that every trainee working under this contract will have access to a champion of flexible training. Where champions are already in place, they will remain in their role.
The role is intended to support trainees who are training flexibly or are considering doing so. The champion will stay up to date with guidance and contractual changes relating to flexible training, and be a visible point of contact and expertise for LTFT (less than full time) trainees’ issues, advocating for trainees where helpful. The champion will also promote and improve existing support for LTFT and other models of flexible training.
Incorporating the voice of LTFT trainees
The BMA’s LTFT forum provides a dedicated representative structure to reflect the voice of LTFT doctors in BMA policy and decision-making. The forum has provided extensive feedback, leading to the inclusion of key mechanisms in both the 2016 TCS and the guidance on champions of flexible training, which will improve support for LTFTs.
What we have done so far
• We have ensured that trainees will be involved in the appointment and appraisal of the champions. This provides a critical feedback mechanism, for trainees to highlight any concerns, as well as what is working well. At least one of the trainees on the champion’s appointment panel must work LTFT.
• We have successfully argued for vital competencies in the role profile that will strengthen the champion’s position, such as: the ability to advocate effectively, challenging and effecting change for LTFTs and influence with senior management;, a thorough understanding of the unique challenges of training needs of current and potential LTFT trainees in the organisation(s) that they cover; and a detailed knowledge of junior doctor rostering and rotas, as well as broader deanery/HEE structures relevant to flexible training.
• We have highlighted what a good champion appointment looks like in a list of suggested actions and activities to be undertaken, which we developed in consultation with current champions and their examples of best practice.
In her blog, Rifca Le Dieu the champion of flexible training at Barts explains why she applied for the role when it was first created, and what she brings to the position as a consultant in haemato-oncology.