Healthcare reforms coupled with NHS financial pressures have created a ‘perfect storm’ for the erosion of high-quality medical training.
That was the warning from new UK junior doctors leader Ben Molyneux, who pledged to make safeguarding the quality of training a priority for the year ahead.
His call for action came as it emerged that some GP trainees in the Kent, Surrey and Sussex postgraduate medical deanery have had to do two placements in psychiatry because of staff shortages.
London GP trainee Dr Molyneux was today elected as BMA junior doctors committee chair, taking over from Tom Dolphin, who steps down after a year as chair and another 12 months as co-chair.
Speaking after his election, Dr Molyneux said high-quality training must be ensured.
He said: ‘The economic climate in the NHS and major changes introduced by the Health and Social Care Act have created a perfect storm for the potential erosion of high-quality medical training.
‘We have already seen evidence that the financial pressures are taking their toll on medical training. In the south of England some trainees have been forced to complete two placements in psychiatry because of staff shortages. Junior doctors should not be denied a rounded training programme that exposes them to a range of specialties.’
Half of respondents to a BMA Health Policy and Economic Research Unit survey carried out in the summer said they were more likely to leave the NHS to work overseas after training compared with two years ago.
Dr Molyneux said: ‘This would represent a massive potential loss to the NHS. Continued pay freezes and the raid on doctors’ pensions will further demoralise a profession facing an intense and lengthy training programme.
‘I hope there will be opportunities for the BMA to work closely with the government to address the concerns of junior doctors, and that ministers will work in partnership with us to improve the quality of training.’
A spokesperson for KSS Deanery said its GP trainees undertake four-month placements, compared with six-month placements elsewhere, to give them the chance to experience a variety of different specialties.
'A number of our GP registrars will undertake two four-month placements in a specialty, and psychiatry is just one of these,' the spokesperson said.
'We consider it particularly important that our GPs of the future are skilled at managing these issues. Any GP specialty training programme rotation will be subject to change as has always been the case for GP training, and we would always expect our local GP programme directors to negotiate and agree any changes with individual GP registrars at the locality.'
All GP training programmes within KSS meet GMC requirements for certificate of completion of training, the deanery added.