During the past few weeks, myself and my BMA Wales junior doctor committee colleagues have been watching as our final year medical student colleagues have demonstrated great professionalism and adaptability as the final months of their undergraduate studies swiftly changed, and for many, graduation and the invitation to take up provisional registration and employment as a doctor came early.
What is clear is that you are entering the medical profession and embarking on the next stage of your vocation during a time of great change. Whether you are taking up an interim foundation year job, or finding another path, welcome, thank you and congratulations. Regardless of what you decide to do during the pandemic, what you are doing and will do is more than enough. You are a valued member of our community.
We are your junior doctors’ committee in Wales. We are here to listen to your concerns, issues and needs. We represent you at Welsh and UK level and work closely alongside committees representing other grades of doctors, Health Education and Improvement Wales, Welsh Government, the GMC in Wales and NHS Wales. We work to safeguard and improve your employment and training rights, while promoting your wellbeing and safety.
Outside a pandemic, taking up practice is an exciting time; a time of adjustment and exposure to a large amount of information. Below is just a short summary outlining brief and informative resources to some of your most important employment and training rights as an interim foundation year, how we are working to promote your wellbeing and what the we can do for you.
Look out for the Welsh Fatigue and Facilities Charter, due to be launched very soon. This charter, agreed with the Welsh Government and NHS Employers, recognises the need for rest, access to food and drink, breaks and for your personal safety to be preserved while at work.
We have outlined a useful set of FAQs about key COVID-19 related issues, such as what your rights are if you are asked to deliver care with no personal protective equipment available and access to swab testing and other key questions. You can also log concerns about local shortages of PPE
You’ll find a whole host of training-related information from your education body, or ‘deanery’ at HEIW, here
The BMA offers free a 24/7 counselling service for all medical students, doctors and their dependants, and a peer support service. We also have a wellbeing hub collating resources across the UK, including Wales. Links to all can be found here
There is also the Health for Health Professionals Wales support service, which is free to access. Your health board may also be offering psychological support services – look out for emails via your wales.uk email account.
If you have concerns about your employment rights or working environment, please do contact the BMA’s First Point of Contact service. It only takes a few minutes, you are given a unique case number, and your issues will be sent on to employment advisors in Wales.
We are continuing to work hard on behalf of junior doctors in Wales, so look out for emails and posts on social media for updates. There may well be important announcements soon that will have further positive impacts on your working life.
It has never been more important to reach out and look out for each other. Remember, when you take up your licence to practise and begin your first post, you don’t just start your life as a doctor, you join a clinical team, and an international community of doctors. You are never alone – reach out. Find out more about WJDC
If you are taking up a clinical post, pace yourself, know that your best is good enough and that every day you are learning and contributing to your clinical teams, even when it doesn’t always feel like this. Arguably, perhaps the greatest skill as a clinician is knowing your limitations, working up to them but asking for help.
We are always listening. Please reach out and let us hear your voices so we can continue to promote your needs. Good luck!
Josie Cheetham is chair of the BMA Wales junior doctors committee.