Fears over training reforms

  • Date: 26 April 2011

GOVERNMENT plans to abolish deaneries and overhaul medical education and training have been criticised by the BMA.

Junior Doctors Committee co-chairman Tom Dolphin said there was “great fear” that the plans to hand responsibility to local skills networks could see training for doctors “slide into decline”.

He said: “The government’s plans will effectively abolish the postgraduate medical deaneries which provide important local scrutiny of the quality of medical training and ensure patient safety is not jeopardised by poor training.”

Concerns were also raised over the lack of detail on the functions, size, and structure of these networks. And there are fears that the integration of these networks with service providers may prioritise short term service commitments over long term training goals.

The concerns were raised in the BMA’s response to the government white paper Liberating the NHS: Developing the Healthcare Workforce.

In the document, BMA Council Chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum said the plans could put training at risk. He said: “The plans for medical education and training could be very damaging to the NHS because of their lack of detail, the overly ambitious pace of change and the failure to consider effectively their impact on medical training and patient care. The future of the NHS is highly dependent on a properly trained workforce and we are very concerned that the plans outlined in the White Paper put the quality of training at risk.”

He said that moving away from a national or even UK-wide approach to managing workforce planning is “particularly worrying” as it risks “introducing a postcode lottery for medical training and ultimately patient care.” He called on the government to build on the current system rather than “embark on a revolution with hugely uncertain outcomes.”

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