Trainee doctors put on call warn on patient safety

There is a call to make training in general medicine mandatory. Picture: Robert Perry
There is a call to make training in general medicine mandatory. Picture: Robert Perry
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TRAINEE doctors have expressed concerns that recommendations to widen their training so they can work on call as well as cover their specialism will affect patient safety.

Last year a report by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) suggested that doctors training in one speciality should also receive training in general medicine so they can help look after more patients to help deal with staff shortages.

But a conference in Glasgow has heard warnings that trainee dermatologists fear that any plans to make them work on call in general medicine would put patient safety at risk, with 82 per cent strongly opposed to such reforms.

The British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) Annual Conference heard concerns that doctors would not be able to spend enough time dealing with general medicine patients to be confident to cope with this in addition to the demand placed on them in their own specialty.

Last year the Future Hospital Commission was established by the RCP to find solutions to the current challenges faced by the NHS and one recommendation was for training in general internal medicine to be mandatory for all doctors training in medical specialties.

A particular concern raised by young dermatologists if such a plan was introduced was performing unsupervised procedures that are not regularly done by dermatology trainees, including placing central lines in patients and inserting chest drains.

Professor Chris Bunker, BAD president, said: “This study highlights a major flaw in the agenda to make participation in general medicine mandatory for those training in all medical specialties. The trainees who would be tasked with the work have stated that they do not feel it is safe for them to do so.”

Sir Richard Thompson, RCP president, said: “The RCP would never endanger patient care by suggesting that doctors without the necessary skills and knowledge should treat patients.

“The Future Hospital Commission proposal is for doctors already training in a specialty like dermatology to do more training in general medicine to help us to cope with the increasing amount of patients, particularly frail older patients, who have more than one specific medical problem. Current dermatology trainees would be offered extra training before treating general medical patients.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “It is for NHS boards to plan and deliver clinical services, and ensure that the right staff are in place at the right time to deliver high-quality care to all patients.

“Doctors in training work to an approved training curriculum, and receive regular reviews to ensure that they are meeting the necessary standards.”


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