Medical training should be more flexible

MEDICAL training should be more flexible to allow junior doctors to switch specialties and develop skills in other disciplines.

That’s the view of the NHS Future Forum in its report on education and training. It says greater flexibility would also allow trainees to take up academic fellowships or international posts.

Properly constructed jobs with educational opportunities should be made available to doctors who don’t want to become consultants or GPs once they have their certificate of completion of training, the Forum adds. It also supports the RCGP’s calls to extend GP training and says generalism should be fostered as a career choice for doctors.

The recommendations were made as part of the government’s “listening exercise” on its plans to modernise the NHS through the white paper, Liberating the NHS: Developing the Healthcare Workforce.

The forum’s proposals have been largely welcomed by the BMA. Tom Dolphin, chair of the BMA’s Junior Doctors Committee said: “We’re glad that they’ve kept postgraduate deans and the deanery set-up, and they’ve recommended governance arrangements to respond to a lot of our concerns about conflicts of interest.”

Although he expressed concern at plans to encourage trainees to take time out of training to bolster their experience, adding: “If trainees are in a training programme, then that programme should deliver the experiences they need without them having to take time out.”

Following the Future Forum’s recommendations, a new two-year curriculum designed to allow junior doctors to experience a wider range of specialties is due to be piloted in the North Western Deanery this year and is awaiting approval from the General Medical Council.

The programme will be completed by juniors after foundation training and cover the specialties of general practice, medicine, paediatrics and psychiatry in a similar way to existing programmes such as core medical training (CMT) and the acute care common stem (ACCS).

It is expected the new programme will be implemented fully in 2013.