Hospitals employ more senior doctors

THE NHS is employing more consultants and senior doctors, with fewer posts available for locums, new figures reveal.

A report from the NHS Information Centre showed a two per cent drop in the number of less experienced doctors working in NHS hospital and community health services in England from November 2010 to November 2011. The study indicates a trend of employers moving away from using locums in favour of more experienced employed doctors.

The number of doctors employed directly by hospitals increased by 1.7 per cent in terms of whole time equivalents (WTEs), many of whom were at senior grades, with a 3.3 per cent rise in consultants and a 1.4 per cent increase in registrars. There was no change to the number of WTE doctors in training but there was a 17.1 per cent fall in the number of WTE hospital practitioners and clinical assistants.

The report reveals big reductions in locums, with 3.1 per cent fewer WTEs from November 2010 to November 2011. There were 4.5 per cent fewer WTE locum consultants employed and 18.1 per cent fewer locum registrars.

The biggest drop came in the use of locum doctors in training with a 38 per cent drop in WTEs over the year. Locum hospital practitioners and clinical assistants also decreased 41 per cent, and there was an 8.3 per cent drop in medical and dental staff locums.

Tom Dolphin of the BMA Junior Doctors Committee told BMJ Careers: “We’ve been saying for some time that we need to see a shift to a trained doctor delivered service, and it looks as though the service is starting to respond to that a bit.”

He said that having more trained doctors providing the service would enable junior doctors to concentrate on training while they were in hospital.

He added: “We need to do something about the fact that the number of people completing their training and getting onto the specialist and GP register is increasing every year, and we need to make sure the service changes to reflect that we have all these trained doctors around who need to be used to their full potential.”