JUNIOR doctors should be able to move between specialties more easily during training, according to a new report from the General Medical Council.
The regulator has called for postgraduate medical training to be made more flexible to allow trainees to gain wider experience across a range of specialties. The GMC’s report State of Medical Education and Practice in the UK says postgraduate training should undergo a “fundamental” review in 2012 to keep pace with changing patterns of healthcare demand.
GMC chief executive Niall Dickson told BMJ Careers: “Specialties will grow or decline depending on what patient demand is. We’ve got to have an approach that reflects the needs of the healthcare system. There’s not much point in producing types of doctor that aren’t actually required in the numbers required previously.”
The report states that the current training structure makes it difficult for junior doctors to transfer between specialties if they find they are better suited to another discipline or in response to changing workforce requirements.
It states: “A large proportion of placements are in adult medicine and surgery which, although clearly important, should not be allowed to detract from the need for trainees to gain wider experience across a range of specialties – for example, also spending time in Paediatrics, General Practice and General Psychiatry, so as to ensure ‘broad based beginnings’, a core principle of [the recruitment and training system] Modernising Medical Careers.”
The GMC also recommends that trainees should be made aware of a possible mismatch between their preferences, the opportunities available, and the workforce needs of the health service and that they should “balance their ambitions with realistic expectations of those specialties which continue to be over-subscribed.”
The report also raised concerns over the effects of the European Working Time Directive and other pressures on service delivery and the restrictions it places on training time.
Mr Dickson added: “We absolutely understand the difficulties that people running frontline services have, but we have a duty to ensure that trainees are protected and that we do train the next generation of doctors appropriately.”