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Reforming Medical Education for the good of all

16 July 2019

It seems obvious to say, but doctors who receive high quality training, have the right support and feel valued and motivated, will deliver the best patient care.


It is also obvious that if medicine, and medical training, is an attractive career option, then we will be able to recruit more doctors that the NHS needs and keep more of those that we already have.


These simple truths are set out clearly and loudly in the NHS Interim People Plan, which says, “There will be a sustainable supply of doctors as a result of a sufficient flow of additional medical trainees and improved retention of doctors at all stages of their medical training and career, through improved working lives, flexible training options and rewarding careers and conditions.”


In HEE, we have a dedicated work programme addressing these vital workforce issues. Put simply, our Medical Education Reform Programme is working to improve the way we train our doctors to ensure that we train and retain more doctors who are equipped with the skills that the future NHS needs.


This important programme has just produced three major pieces of work that will make a significant contribution to this aim. Importantly, all of them have been produced in partnership with others with an interest in this area and with the voice of doctors in training themselves at their heart.


The first of these is the progress report on our ongoing work on Enhancing Junior Doctors Working Lives, which my colleague Professor Sheona MacLeod recently wrote about. Responding to what junior doctors tell us, and with the full participation of their representatives in the BMA and others, the report sets out achievements over the last year on increasing flexibility in the training pathway, sharing best practice and responding to concerns about how doctors are deployed to training places, among other things.


It also sets out priorities for the year to come, with improving flexibility again a key theme, along with improving support and supervision.


Indeed, supervision is the second piece of work that the Medical Education Reform Programme has produced after a major review of how the supervision of doctors is and should be provided. We have produced a suite a resources to help all those with an interest in supervision, from trainees and supervisors, to employing Trusts and even CQC inspectors.


Again, this work is about ensuring that doctors in training feel properly supported and valued and has come about because they told us that this was not always the case.


The resources set out how different types of supervision can be provided by different members of the multiprofessional team and what trainees should expect from the supervision that they are provided. Supervision is there to ensure that doctors are receiving the training they need and deserve as well as the safety and quality of patient care.


Good supervision is already in place in the majority of cases. We hope that these resources will help people across the NHS to further improve it and address those instances where it falls a little short of what is needed.


Last but by no means least, we have produced a major review of the Foundation Medical Training Programme. Its title, Supported from the start; ready for the future, neatly sums up what Foundation training should deliver. The review, once again produced in partnership with doctors, provider Trusts, medical Royal Colleges and a wide range of other partners from across healthcare, comes at an apposite time and is driven, at least in part, by the common thread that junior doctors tell us they want flexibility, the best supervision and a need for better transition to postgraduate from medical school.


It will also address the needs of the wider NHS by placing more training places in areas that need them and providing active support for foundation doctors who have come from a wider social background to support them in their medical careers.


Taken together, with a golden thread of addressing the concerns of doctors in training, these three major pieces of work, demonstrate HEE’s commitment to delivering the NHS Long Term Plan in the interests of safe, high quality patient care.


Posted by Professor Wendy Reid, Executive Director Education and Quality and Medical Director

Enhancing Doctors' Working Lives

The Enhancing Doctors’ Working Lives programme was established in March 2016, to address a range of issues that were having a significant negative impact on the quality of life of doctors in postgraduate training.

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