Improvements For Welsh Junior Doctors Sought

A campaign aimed at improving the working lives of junior doctors in Wales gets underway today.

BMA Cymru Wales has become increasingly concerned about working conditions of junior doctors in general.

Taking place against a backdrop of this month's introduction of the EC Working Time Directive, which enforces a maximum 48-hour working week, the Wales BMA is also worried about the impact poor working conditions could have both on doctors' careers and on patient safety.

The representative body said concerns include a lack of training opportunities, an alleged unsafe staffing level, incidences of bullying and intimidation and non-compliant rotas as well as insufficient locum cover.

Junior doctors are understandably afraid to voice any concerns themselves with senior management, for fear of repercussions, which is why BMA Cymru Wales is launching the 'Option 7' campaign - named after the option on a BMA phone line that juniors can select, to discuss bullying and harassment in confidence.

The on-going campaign will involve BMA Welsh Secretary Dr Richard Lewis and BMA Welsh Council Chairman Dr Andrew Dearden meeting with the top executives of the new NHS health boards in Wales.

Dr Dearden said: "We are hearing of some worrying cases concerning junior doctors, which seem to be more widespread than just 'one-off' incidents.

"It has got to the point where it is starting to affect the reputation of training in Wales.

"It will also further adversely affect the recruitment and retention of junior doctors in Wales, which it is probably fair to say, is at a critical point now," the top medic insisted.

"Those who raise concerns are afraid of retribution and retaliation, and we decided we could no longer deal with these on a one-to-one basis, that there was a very real need for a dedicated campaign by BMA Cymru Wales, on behalf of junior doctors," he continued.

In the meetings with NHS health bosses, BMA Cymru Wales will be offering support to employers to resolve the problems highlighted and drawing up an action plan together, with the involvement of the Wales Deanery.

In addition, Dr Lewis and Dr Dearden will also be meeting as many junior doctors as possible during the campaign.

Dr David Samuel, Chairman of the BMA's Welsh junior doctors committee thinks some of the issues are much more far-reaching: "I think we are just scratching the surface at the moment of what could prove to be an endemic situation.

"We understand that trusts have to meet targets and have gaps to fill on the rotas, but the training and welfare of juniors are also important," he said.

Junior doctors' hours are already being closely monitored with the implementation of the 48-hour working week for workers throughout Europe, including doctors, on 1 August.

Last week, the BMA in Northern Ireland said that it will insist that the health service must meet its obligations to implement the European Working Time Directive - a view that is expected to be echoed across each of the areas covered by the BMA.

See: Doctors Hours Must Be Cut: BMA


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