14/08/2018

Single Employer To Be Established For Doctors In Training

A single employer for doctors in training in Northern Ireland is to be established, the Department of Health has announced.

The new arrangement is to to be in place by August 2019 – simplifying employment arrangements for junior doctors and increasing efficiency in the Health and Social Care service.

At present, postgraduate doctors in training are employed by the local area health trust where they are carrying out their training. However, as they rotate around different training posts they frequently have to change employers. This leads to difficulties for these doctors in relation to payroll, maternity/paternity leave arrangements, pre-employment checks, management of grievance and disciplinary processes and the application of standardised policies and procedures.

Making the announcement, Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health, Richard Pengelly, said: "We published the health and social care Workforce Strategy in May. One of our key actions is to simplify employment arrangements for our staff, and in due course we will explore whether a single employer for all HSC staff is feasible and will produce benefits for staff/patients/clients. As a first step, we will create a single employer for doctors in training with an intention to bring this into operation on 01 August 2019.
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"This is an ambitious but achievable goal. Department of Health officials will chair a steering group and a working group comprised of senior human resources and medical staff from across the HSC to make sure that we identify and address all the issues. We will need to decide on the best home for the single employer, standardise HR and payroll arrangements, induction and mandatory training protocols and IT access, among other matters.

"It will make life easier for our junior doctors, who already face a stressful and busy time whilst they are training in our service. Ultimately the intention is that this will be one of a number of improvements which will make the Health and Social Care service an employer of choice and help us to reduce unsustainable agency and locum costs."

This latest development follows the announcement, in May, of an initial allocation of £15m in workforce development, from the £100m transformation fund for 2018/19. Around a third of the £15m is being directed towards the nursing, midwifery and Allied Health Professional workforce.

It includes funding for 74 additional pre-registration nursing places, and 25 additional midwifery places, meaning a total of 1000 nursing and midwifery training places are being commissioned from universities in 2018/19 – an all-time high in Northern Ireland. There has also been additional investment in medical specialty training such as anaesthesiology, radiology, urology and neurology, and plans to fund significant development of Specialty and Associate Specialist roles.

(MH/CM)

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