Commenting on the announcement today by the minister for health that there will be an increase in training places in theiIntensive care medical specialty training programme, chair of BMA’s Northern Ireland junior doctors committee, Dr Noel Sharkey, said: “This increase in training capacity for a key specialty in the treatment of more severe cases of COVID-19 as well as many other life threatening clinical scenarios is welcome.
We would also call for a similar increase in other key specialities, such as public health medicine, to better prepare our health system for any subsequent waves of the pandemic or future pandemics. However, any increase in training places must go hand-in-hand with significant changes to the way training is experienced by most junior doctors throughout Northern Ireland’s health service.
“Having more medical trainee places is good for our health service, especially specialities where there are significant staffing gaps as has been the case for the past number of years. However, the quality of training is just as important as feet on the ground.
Junior doctors have put their education and training on hold in order to work the highly pressurised and long hours of COVID rotas as part of the pandemic response. Many of these rotas were not sustainable for trainees and it has led to burnout and a sense of not feeling valued.
“The next ‘changeover’ period in August will see hundreds of young doctors switch to new clinical ‘rotations’ as part of their training. It will also see newly graduated doctors officially commence the foundation training programme, some of whom have already worked as interim foundation year one doctors as part of the pandemic response.
It is therefore imperative for these doctors that we make sure issues like getting a rota on time, access to rest facilities, safe working patterns and no further disruption to education and training are addressed and that employers work to improve these aspects of training for junior doctors. Doing so will boost morale for this key section of the health service workforce at this challenging time.”
Notes to editors
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