College backs health chief’s call for training reforms

  • Date: 30 January 2014

A CALL to overhaul medical training has been backed by a Royal college.

Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer Sir Harry Burns told the Herald newspaper that doctors are being forced to specialise too early and should complete more than two foundation years before choosing a field.

He said the NHS needed “more people with a broader range of skills”, rather than the rising number of “super specialist” consultants with expertise in narrow fields of medicine.

The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh has released a statement supporting Sir Harry’s call for reform.

It said: “With the evolving and increasing evidence that volume (and therefore specialism) matters in surgical outcomes, RCSEd recognises there can be a tension between ‘generalism’ and ‘specialism’, however, the College strongly supports the emphasis on the retention of ‘general skills’ to provide holistic care and support to staff emergency rotas.

“RCSEd welcomes the recognition of the importance of apprenticeship training and is strongly supportive for the themes of teamwork and flexibility in training to improve surgical outcomes and enhance patient safety.”

Sir Harry, who is stepping down from his role as chief medical officer, said current training was too compartmentalised.

He said: “In the old days when I was a junior doctor, if the accident and emergency department was busy, everyone went down and helped. What we are seeing now is the fact we have emergency medicine consultants and they are left to get on with it. We need to be thinking through greater resilience in the system.”

However, he said he is hopeful that the profession will produce a solution to the problem of a training system that is “too prescriptive”.

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