Part-time trainees must work half of full-time hours

JUNIOR doctors in less than full time training (LTFT) must work at least half the hours worked by those in full time training, the General Medical Council has announced.

Allowances will only be made in exceptional circumstances with scope to reduce hours to a minimum of 20 per cent of full time training for up to 12 months.

The GMC moved to firm up rules surrounding LTFT training after branding the current system “absurd”. The regulator highlighted a scenario where a trainee could theoretically train for as little as 10 per cent of full time and therefore take 50 years to complete a five-year certificate of completion of training programme. LTFT trainees also risked losing touch with clinical practice and could have difficulty progressing through their careers.

Demands have increased for flexible specialty training over the past decade, the GMC has said, as more doctors seek a better work-life balance. As of April 2011, there were 3,777 LTFT trainees in the UK, 6.6 per cent of the total number of doctors and trainees, and 95 per cent were women.

Before the GMC announcement, there was no minimum legal requirement controlling the amount of hours worked by LTFT trainees.

The move has been welcomed by the BMA, despite initial concerns that it was too inflexible.

Ben Molyneux, deputy chairman of the BMA’s Junior Doctors Committee, said: “To start with we were opposed to putting in an arbitrary limit, because there isn’t any evidence for it. However, deans can show discretion, and they can for a short time reduce the amount down to 20 per cent, so we were satisfied that it allows flexibility and that trainees who are having difficulty or have other responsibilities in the short time will not have to forfeit their training.”

Read the GMC statement here

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