Restrict leave during trainee changeover, report says

CONSULTANTS and other senior staff should avoid holidays and other non-essential activities during the changeover of trainee doctors, a new report suggests.

The recommendation aims to ensure junior doctors have adequate support as they start their new jobs.

The majority of UK doctors will change their clinical posts on the first Wednesday in August. Research suggests death rates amongst patients admitted on this day increase by as much as six per cent.

A new report from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and NHS Employers has made four key recommendations to help minimise the problems that arise during changeover periods.

The study highlights the importance of senior support, stating: “The consultant, as the clinical leader of the team, needs to be actively involved in welcoming, inducting and supporting their new trainees in the critical period when they are acclimatising to their new job role and environment.”

It suggests trusts could implement a system for annual, study and professional leave that “guarantees appropriate presence in the workplace.” With the exception of essential induction, medical directors should ensure that training days, meetings and other professional or management activities requiring consultant presence are not arranged during changeover.

Other recommendations include more flexible and “intelligent” rota design that allows trainees to familiarise themselves with the clinical environment during day shifts before being assigned to out-of-hours shifts. Rota gaps should be filled with specialty or consultant grade doctors to ensure sufficient support is available for juniors.

Trainees should also undergo a rigorous induction giving information about the clinical environment they will be working in. “This vital component should not be overshadowed by the need to impart large quantities of corporate information, such as fire evacuation procedures or human resources protocols,” the report adds. It also recommends that trainee doctors are paid or awarded time in lieu where employers require them to undertake “specified induction activities” before taking up their post.

The report also approves of proposals to stagger the start dates of trainees by grade and says this issue is being looked at by the AoMRC Safe Trainee Changeover Group with findings due this summer.

Find out more on the AoMRC website

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