Removing barriers in specialty training will ease workforce crisis, says BMA

GMC plans to shake up postgraduate training and enable greater flexibility between specialties will help alleviate recruitment and retention workforce problems, the BMA junior doctors chair has said.

The GMC has launched a seven-point plan to overhaul postgraduate training and make it easier for trainees to switch between specialties.

The Adapting for the future plan proposes that related specialties will share ‘common outcomes and elements’ in their curricula and calls on the government to make the law less restrictive to enable easier changes to the scheme.

Speciality training will also be organised by outcomes rather than time spent in training to make it easier for trainees to switch specialties.

Medical training

The GMC warned that the current ‘rigid’ system was out-of-date and adapted too slowly. It requires ‘radical overhaul’ to provide more flexibility and facilitate training of more doctors ‘who can care for multiple health conditions’.

Most of the 66 specialties and 32 subspecialties on offer develop their training requirements in complete isolation of each other, creating barriers for trainees looking to switch.

Chief executive Charles Massey added that the GMC ‘will have failed trainees and patients’ if training has not significantly changed within five years’ time.

BMA junior doctors’ committee chair Dr Jeeves Wijesuiriya said: ‘Enabling doctors’ skills to be recognised and valued when transferring from one specialty to another, and addressing the arrangements for how doctors train are central issues to the recruitment and retention of the medical workforce. Tackling them will help to improve the current staffing crisis and ensure that patient care is protected in the long term.

‘We look forward to working with the GMC to continue to add flexibility to the working lives of doctors, and to ensure this serves to improve their access to training despite serious service pressures that we, the GMC and others continue to highlight. Flexibility must not mean flexibility for employers to use junior doctors to cover up more rota gaps at the expense of their training.’

Mr Massey said: ‘The way that medical training has developed in the last 30 years has contributed to the low morale that doctors in training continue to experience.

GP training

‘The actions that we set out in our report can make a meaningful difference to the professional lives of doctors and the choices they make about their careers. But ultimately it is patients who will benefit the most from these changes.

‘We are ideally placed to drive these changes forward but we cannot deliver more flexibility and choice for doctors on our own. We need all bodies involved in the delivery of UK medical education to work with us and be as determined as we are to deliver this ambitious vision.

‘If postgraduate training in the UK looks the same in five years’ time, then we will have failed trainees and we will have failed patients.’

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