Junior doctor England

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Funds secure to improve rest facilities

Every trust in England will receive tens of thousands in funding towards improving rest facilities, following an agreement reached between the Government and BMA.

A fund of £6.3m will be invested across 210 trusts in England, each of which will receive a minimum of £30,000 to assist in developing or improving rest and sleep facilities for on-call staff.

Following this initial investment, which will take place during the 2019-20 financial year, the remaining £3.7m balance in funding will be distributed among 122 trusts identified as requiring additional support to bring about improvements to on-site facilities.

The decision to provide funding comes as a result of negotiations and agreement reached between the association and Department of Health and Social Care as part of the 2018 junior doctors contract review.


Step up

BMA junior doctors contract chair Jeeves Wijesuriya heralded the funding announcement, describing it as a hard fought-for agreement that would give every trust the opportunity to improve the working lives of junior doctors.

He said: ‘This much-needed investment from the Department of Health and Social Care, as an early outcome from the 2018 junior doctors contract review, is extremely welcome and an example of how targeted funding can make a tangible difference to working lives of junior doctors.

'The BMA has been tirelessly campaigning for improved and more readily available rest facilities and we are pleased to see that the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has listened to our concerns and responded with positive action.

'It has been encouraging to see the overwhelmingly supportive response from hospital trusts, all of whom have now endorsed the BMA’s Fatigue and Facilities Charter, recognising the importance of adequate, free to use rest facilities for staff. Improving the working environment is a key driver in retaining NHS staff.

'While there is a still a long way to go to alleviating the enormous pressure on juniors and achieving the work/life balance, a commitment of this kind is a significant step which we hope will start to make stories of doctors being injured or worse when driving home after long shifts, a thing of the past.’


Sign-up rate

Guidance for how the funding should be used is expected to be provided by the BMA’s 2018 Fatigue and Facilities Charter – a good-practice framework to which all trusts in England have now signed up to in principal.

Under the terms of the funding settlement, any planned improvement works will need to be approved by the relevant trust’s JDF (junior doctors' forum) and senior management team.

The JDF and trust director of medical education will also be required to sign-off and monitor any financial allocation to ensure funds are spent appropriately.

Efforts to improve staff sleep and rest facilities in hospitals by promoting the charter, has been a long-standing campaign for the BMA and its members.


Feel valued

Paediatric emergency medicine registrar Michael McCarron, who is based at Sheffield children’s hospital, said his trust’s investment in rest facilities had made him feel more valued.

He said: ‘We’re often relying on junior doctors to make life-or-death decisions very quickly and so to be able to make those decisions effectively you need to be working at your peak and that means you have to be rested.

‘It’s really great that the Sheffield children’s hospital has come on board with the fatigue and facilities charter. It really makes me as a junior doctor, and I think my colleagues as well, feel valued.

BMA East of England RJDC chair Rowan Gossedge told of how he had once nearly been involved in a traffic accident due to having to drive home at night following a 13-hour shift.

He said the experience had made him realise the importance of hospital’s having proper rest areas for staff.

He said: ‘I was driving home and I nodded off at the wheel and got woken up on the A14 by the cat’s eyes and my steering wheel vibrating.

‘The difference now is the hospital I'm at has good rest facilities. The hospital I’m at now has the ability [for me] to after a long day or night shift, book a room, sleep there then get up and be at work.’


Under pressure

Responding to the announcement about additional investment in workplace rest facilities for healthcare workers in England, Professor Colin Melville – the GMC’s medical director and director of education and standards – said: ‘Health services are under huge pressure and good rest and break facilities are vital for staff wellbeing, so this investment is very welcome.

‘Access to suitable rest rooms and study spaces can also affect the ability of trainee doctors to learn while they are working. That’s why we added questions about workplace facilities to this year’s national training surveys, which seek the views of tens of thousands of doctors.

‘We remain concerned about how the pressures of work impact on the mental health and wellbeing of doctors at all stages of their careers, and we commissioned Dame Denise Coia and Professor Michael West to conduct a UK-wide review and to identify the changes that are necessary to address this important issue.'

Find out more about the charter


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