Generation of Scots doctors could be risk to patients
Scotland is at risk of creating a generation of poorly-trained doctors, putting patient care in danger, medics have warned.
The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPE) said problems with training and a shortage of staff risked compromising patient safety unless urgent action was taken by the incoming Scottish Government.
In an unprecedented warning, the organisation said there was increasing evidence highlighting shortcomings in training in Scotland and across the UK, including young doctors having to fill gaps in hospital rotas at the expense of their training.
The RCPE also said there were too few doctors - both trainees and consultants - in some hospitals to safely staff rotas, particularly out of hours, leading to lapses in patient safety.
The organisation outlined its concerns over training as it published its calls in the run-up to the Scottish elections in May.
It said that the European working time directive, which limits doctors' hours to 48 a week, had had an effect on the amount of time junior doctors could spend in training. This was compounded by there not being enough doctors to staff shifts.
In some cases, senior trainees are having to work more general shifts to plug gaps in rotas to cover for junior colleagues whose hours have been cut.
The RCPE said many consultants also had insufficient time to adequately supervise the training of doctors.
The organisation said these concerns had the potential "to seriously undermine patient safety, the quality of patient care and the future sustainability of the NHS in Scotland".
They called for guaranteed training time for doctors, as well as a "modest" relaxation of working time regulations to improve the continuity of care.
Dr Neil Dewhurst, RCPE president, said: "We need to ensure an adequately planned, trained and resourced medical workforce. Failure to do so could lead to a generation of inadequately trained doctors and, in turn, compromise patient safety."
Margaret Watt, chair of the Scotland Patients Association, agreed with concerns over training and said they had been told by doctors that there were shortages in staff.
"They have no intention of filling shortages, but they have every intention of letting young doctors work over their time and make them so tired they can't cope the next day," she said.
Scottish Labour's health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: "We are now beginning to see the SNP's cuts beginning to bite across the NHS, and with 4,000 NHS staff due to lose their jobs next year, the Royal College of Physicians are absolutely right to point out that there is real pressure on hospital rotas and that training is coming under real pressure."
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