Junior doctor England

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Promise to improve the lot of junior doctors

Jeeves Wijesuriya, Junior doctors committee
WIJESURIYA: 'Improved training and working conditions for junior doctors are absolutely vital'

Health Education England has pledged to improve the working lives of junior doctors – outlining a range of measures to make training fairer and more flexible, at the instigation of the BMA.

The work, outlined in the report Enhancing Junior Doctors’ Working Lives, comes after discussions with the BMA about areas including access to flexible working, fairer recruitment rules and improved rota notice for trainees.

Among the developments in the report, HEE (Health Education England) covers the improved flexibility already introduced into recruitment for those applying for 2017 specialty training, and commits to work to explore linked specialty applications and improved support for parents in future rounds.

It has agreed to introduce a 12-month pilot that would allow all higher trainees (specialty trainee 4 and above) in emergency medicine in England to apply for LTFT (less than full-time training) without having to meet existing eligibility rules – as part of broader efforts to explore the benefits and impacts of making training more flexible.

The report also details measures to ensure all trainees are guaranteed access to standardised recruitment and induction processes, and a commitment from the medical royal colleges to collate the true costs of training including exams and to standardise the publication of costs in a transparent manner.

A commitment to review the number of rotations during training – and the geographical distance between each – has also been included.

BMA junior doctors committee chair Jeeves Wijesuriya said: ‘Improved training and working conditions for junior doctors are absolutely vital and these proposals could go some way toward helping address some of the most crucial areas.

‘Junior doctors are still being asked to do impossible jobs around the country – working long hours in an NHS pushed to breaking point while also training to be the consultants, GPs and specialist doctors of tomorrow.

‘We have warned NHS leaders and politicians that enough is enough and more action must be taken, otherwise the recruitment and retention workforce crisis in the NHS could worsen even further, with potentially drastic consequences. It is imperative that work continues to ensure training is fair, flexible and rewarding.’

The report has arisen after trainees from across the country, and the BMA, voiced broader concerns about working life, training and morale during the junior doctor contract dispute.

Writing in the report, HEE medical director Wendy Reid says: ‘As is clear from this report, there has been good progress made to address these challenges, ranging from new legal protection for junior doctors raising patient safety concerns and the impact on their training to an agreement that HEE will develop a policy to enable joint applications from couples by next year’s recruitment cycle.’

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