How will proposed medical training cuts impact on patients?
An independent review has recommended the shortening of medical training for doctors in the UK.
The Shape of Training review has called to reduce consultant training from its current eight to ten years, to a shorter six to eight years. Junior doctors would thus become fully registered medical practitioners immediately after graduation, as opposed to a year later under current criteria.
In an obvious flaw, the review fails to outline how doctors can be trained to an appropriate skill level in a shorter space of time than is currently implemented.
Speaking to the BBC, Dr Tom Dolphin of the British Medical Association (BMA) junior doctors’ committee said if the proposal was implemented it would “result in people finishing training and being labelled as a consultant much earlier on, when in fact they are not reaching the same standard that patients have come to expect”.
Not only will the criteria dramatically affect patient safety and care as well as the efficacy of the NHS, but it will put junior doctors in uncomfortable positions where they may feel ill-equipped to handle medical situations. This could decrease job satisfaction and potentially cause mental anguish.
Moreover, the proposal may create a new generation of doctors who may be incapable of training junior doctors in years to come.
With the NHS already under pressure and facing mounting criticism, this proposal is nonsensical. A mounting number of issues have plagued the health care system over the years, it seems this proposed measure is hardly a step in the right direction and would undeniably exacerbate the already fractious relationship between the NHS and the public.
As the NHS confronts its current doctor recruitment crisis, crippling waiting lists and the increase in patients turning to private health-care, this proposal looks to be a shoddy attempt to breathe new life into the service by decreasing waiting times and impeding the demoralisation and frustration of staff who face constant attacks and criticism.
Furthermore, figures from the National Reporting and Learning System (NRLS) in 2013 revealed that 3,588 patients died in the year 2012/2013 due to medical errors including wrong administered medicine, surgical mistakes and slow diagnosis; errors which could all be attributed to lack of training or knowledge.
If the review’s proposal is implemented and training time is decreased whilst the level of teaching remains the same, the quality of patient care and safety will be seriously compromised and could see the NRLS’ figure rise dramatically as a result.
Medical organisations agree with this consensus, saying there is a lack of evidence to support the justification of the review while leading doctors have condemned the proposal to shorten medical training time.
While still at a stage of debate and consideration, the mere suggestion of decreasing the amount of time doctors’ stay in education only adds fuel to the already roaring fire that is the damnation of the NHS.
Our health service might be coveted by nations across the world, with measures such as these being considered, it is hard to see that such envy will last for much longer.