The next planned rotation of postgraduate medical trainees was due to take place on 1 April and would have involved in excess of 20,000 doctors across the UK moving into new posts.
However, UK medical education boards and the GMC have written to trainees asking them to stay in their current placements, in a bid to ‘manage anticipated workload pressures’ as a result of the coronavirus outbreaks.
'It has been decided that all planned rotations due to take place during the “delay phase” of COVID-19 will cease, with trainees being asked to stay in their present working environment, unless local arrangements allow otherwise, or wider clinical circumstances require it,' the letter said. 'Rotations may only occur where departmental inductions, appropriate supervision and support can be guaranteed.'
The move is part of ‘developing workforce plans’ that have been drawn up by NHS providers.
The letter added that trainees will still be able to build on their skills, despite the move - and reassured junior doctors that the plans ‘should not prevent them from completing their curriculum’. The UK's education bodies and GMC said that they were working together to minimise disruption.
The letter also highlighted that junior doctors could be redeployed ‘to areas of significant clinical need’, during the outbreak.
Earlier this month, the CMO revealed that at the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak medical students and FY1 doctors could be called upon to work in frontline clinical roles.
Professor Colin Melville, medical director and director of education and standards at the GMC, said: ‘We support the decision by the four UK medical education bodies to pause planned training rotations for 1 April.
‘Like all doctors, trainees may be asked to work flexibly if the coronavirus pandemic gets worse. We are clear that in these exceptional circumstances appropriate supervision should remain in place and that doctors should not be asked to work outside of their competences.
‘Ultimately we are committed to making sure the pandemic does not compromise long-term training needs or patient safety. Any possible interruptions to training programmes will be considered as part of trainees’ annual progression reviews.’