A health minister has sought to clarify reports that the Government might move the point of medical registration post-Brexit, following concerns raised by the BMA.
Department of Health and Social Care minister Stephen Barclay has insisted that regulatory standards in medical training would remain unchanged following the UK’s exit from the EU next year.
His comments come following a Telegraph online article quoting Mr Barclay, who had given an interview to the newspaper’s Brexit podcast, as suggesting that a reduction in the length of medical training was a possible option for tackling NHS staffing shortages.
In response to the claims, BMA representative body chair Anthea Mowat wrote to Mr Barclay outlining the association’s opposition to moving the point of full medical registration.
Quality at risk
Dr Mowat, who offered to meet with Mr Barclay to discuss the BMA’s position further, warned that shortening doctors’ training would potentially compromise quality and safety in healthcare.
She said: ‘It is vital that the quality of medical education and training and standards of patient care are maintained post-Brexit.
'The BMA firmly believes that moving the point of a doctor’s full registration with the GMC would seriously dilute the quality of our current training programmes – such a move would be a mistake. The transition from medical school to medical practice is one of the most challenging stages of a doctor’s career. It is likely that, if provisional registration were scrapped and the point of full registration moved to graduation, this transition would become even more difficult and patient safety would be put at risk.’
She added: ‘Training doctors takes time and experience. Patients want, and expect, to be seen by a doctor who can provide them with the best possible care, and doctors want the confidence of robust training behind them as they go in to an extremely challenging role.
‘Shortening training time and having junior doctors working with a lower level of expertise and without the level of support the current system provides will not achieve this.’
Proposals around moving the point of full medical registration, from completion of foundation year 1 to graduation from medical school, were included in the Shape of Training Review published in 2013, with the BMA consistently opposing such a move.
In a Tweet posted on 5 August, Mr Barclay sought to clarify his comments by insisting that regulatory standards in medical training would remain in place following the UK’s exit.
He said: ‘In The Telegraph interview I made clear we must “not lower regulatory standards we must maintain standards” post Brexit. Any future proposals would also be subject to consultation, then a Parliamentary vote.’
Find out more about Brexit
Read more from Tim Tonkin and follow on Twitter.