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HEE pledges greater support for doctors in the transition from medical school into NHS training

17 July 2019

Health Education England (HEE) has outlined its commitment to supporting doctors in the transition from medical school into training and working as doctors in its review of the Post Graduate Medical Foundation Programme in England published today.

This includes helping specialties and areas of the country that particularly need more doctors, and supporting doctors from a wider range of backgrounds.

The review report ‘Supported from the start; ready for the future’  looks in detail at the programme in England and at what improvements could be made to offer the best possible training experience.

While the vast majority of foundation doctors have a good learning experience during their foundation training, more needs to be done to make sure doctors feel valued, are able to work safely and have access to support.

In response HEE will:

  • Promote specialties and areas of the country where more doctors are needed, with incentives to encourage trainees to choose to train in them;
  • Distribute new foundation doctor training places in the geographical areas where they are needed most, in alignment with regional plans;
  • Create a common framework for early years career support to tie with the NHS People Plan and better inform doctors in training’s expectations about the changing needs of the NHS in England
  • Work with NHS Employers to develop a foundation doctor charter setting out how local education providers (LEPs) will support foundation training including best practice and minimum standards;
  • Support trainees, employing Trusts and trainee supervisors to ensure that high quality supervision is being consistently delivered in the interests of patient safety and quality of care; and
  • Launch a formal consultation to explore what can be done to best support doctors from a wider range of backgrounds once they join the foundation programme.

Professor Wendy Reid, Medical Director and Executive Director of Education Health Education England said:

This review forms a very key part of a significant programme of work we are leading with partners to reform Medical Education.

We want to make sure that doctors are fully supported in the transition from medical school into training in a working clinical environment and from Foundation into specialty training. This includes making sure they have the best possible educational support and supervision.

We can’t do this alone and this is why we are working with partners from across the NHS. These doctors are our future and we need to do everything we can to support them to provide the safest and highest quality care to patients and provide them with an outstanding training experience.

Professor Carrie MacEwen, Chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges said:

We very much welcome this review and hope the findings are implemented swiftly. While it’s good to see that the vast majority of Foundation doctors have a good learning experience, there is always more to be done to support them and to improve the training environment to make it more suited to the needs of doctors who are at the beginning of their careers. Only by recognising and acting on this will we continue to attract and retain the high quality talent that makes up the medical workforce which works so hard to deliver high quality care.

Chair of Education and Training for the Junior Doctors' Committee, Dr Sarah Hallett, said:

The BMA welcomes the positive proposals put forward in this review which, if enacted, have the potential to make a significant difference to the lives of future trainee doctors.

With the NHS continuing to battle a retention and recruitment crisis, it is vital that junior doctors are given the best possible support before, during and after the foundation programme, which represents their first step into a career in the health service. Proposals such as improving access to training and flexibility of working percentages for doctors who are less than full time are long overdue but very welcome; similarly a move to provide dedicated time for professional development would have an instant positive impact on junior doctor work-life balance.

While innovative approaches to improve staffing in areas with fewer doctors are necessary, the introduction of Foundation Priority Programmes must not reduce the ability for trainees to choose where they train, nor replace efforts to improve working conditions in these areas. These recommendations do not necessarily mean that change will be immediate, however, the BMA will continue to engage with this work to ensure trainee doctors of the future ultimately benefit from the positive steps set out in this report.

An implementation plan for England will accompany this report setting how each of the recommendations will be delivered.

A copy of the review and implementation plan can be found at www.hee.nhs.uk/foundation-review