Medical training reforms threaten patient care

Reforms to medical training could be as damaging to patient care as many fear changes in the Health Bill will be, the BMA has warned.

Dr Datta: ‘Are employers really going to focus on investing in the long term training of doctors when they are being asked to deliver £20bn in savings?
Dr Datta: ‘Are employers really going to focus on investing in the long term training of doctors when they are being asked to deliver £20bn in savings?

In a speech to the BMA’s Annual Conference of Junior Doctors, Dr Shree Datta, who co-chairs the BMA’s Junior Doctors Committee, said proposals laid out in Liberating the NHS: developing the healthcare workforce ‘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,’ she said.

Dr Datta expressed concerns over the pace in which medical training reforms would be implemented.  ‘I am sure many of you remember MTAS,' she said. ‘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?’

Reforms could spell the end of deaneries, leaving Health Education England in charge of training funds, Dr Datta warned. Employer-led ‘skills networks’ are beginning to appear but ‘no one knows what they are going to do,’ Dr Datta said.  

‘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?,’ she added.

In light of the current pause, Dr Datta asked the government to ‘learn the lessons’ of Modernising Medical Careers and slow down. Changes should be ‘necessary, evolutionary and fully tested,’ she said.

‘Do not condemn our training with these reforms, or you will condemn our patients to sub-standard care,’ Dr Datta said.

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