Training Reforms Threaten Patient Care, Says Junior Doctors Leader

Government reforms of medical training could threaten patient care as much as anything in the Health and Social Care Bill, Dr Shree Datta, Co-Chair of the BMA’s Junior Doctors Committee has warned.

In her speech to the British Medical Association’s Annual Conference of Junior Doctors Dr Datta said:

 "The health reforms planned by this government could fundamentally change the character of the NHS in which we work.

"You don’t have to go back very far in history to find out what happens when governments try to rush through changes to medical training. I am sure many of you remember MTAS. Are we really expected to believe that, with an entirely new structure in place, the recruitment process will run smoothly in a year’s time?

"These (reforms) do as much to threaten the future provision of high quality patient care as anything in the Health Bill itself. They propose to invent a new system to commission, deliver, and quality-manage training through large-scale, untested, changes to the current system."

Focusing on the proposed new structures, Dr Datta added:

 "The proposals could be the death knell for Deaneries and with them the quality management of training. A mega body, Health Education England, will hold the purse strings for our training, but with no one to answer to. Employer-led ‘skills networks’ are already springing up and no one knows what they are going to do - or how they will do it. Are employers really going to focus on investing in the long term training of doctors when they are being asked to deliver £20bn in efficiency savings?" 

Dr Datta concluded: "Planning the workforce of the future for the whole NHS cannot be left to chance - it requires a UK-wide approach to ensure all UK patients, no matter where they live, have access to a highly skilled medical workforce."


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