Consultants needed during "killing season"

JUNIOR doctors must be given extra support by consultants to ensure patient safety when new trainees start work in August - the so-called "killing season".

Rotas must also be designed more flexibly and intelligently, trainees should be provided with high quality clinical induction on all units and elective work should be reduced at changeover.

The recommendations have been made in a report by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC) for the UK Medical Education Strategy Group (UKMESG), which comprises all four UK chief medical officers and education leads.

The AoMRC said it was also considering staggering transition dates by grade.

The report highlights evidence of a six per cent increase in mortality for patients admitted on the first Wednesday in August – dubbed ‘Black Wednesday’. AoMRC says UK and international evidence also suggests both increased mortality (four to 12 per cent) and increased length of stay (one to seven per cent) around changeover dates.

In addition, the report says, these arrangements “place considerable stress on junior staff managing unfamiliar patients in an unfamiliar setting”. This may contribute to the “relatively low satisfaction” reported by early trainees to the General Medical Council.

The report says recent plans to introduce paid work shadowing for F1 doctors in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and “probably Scotland” for August 2012 should help tackle this issue.

The UKMESG agreed that, to improve patient care and training, all hospitals and deaneries should ensure the recommendations are being implemented around all trainee rotation dates.

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