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Improved appraisals and more flexibility for doctors in training

30 May 2018

Improvements to the recruitment process and the introduction of more flexible training opportunities are just some of the achievements highlighted by Health Education England (HEE) as it sets out progress made with its Enhancing Junior Doctors’ (JDs) Working Lives programme in a new report published today.

The improvements come as a result of feedback from doctors in training who have highlighted issues involving their training and working environment.

This latest progress report provides an update on the work that HEE has completed with partners including the British Medical Association (BMA),  Medical Royal Colleges and General Medical Council over the past year in response to the concerns doctors in training have raised and to help boost morale.

Key achievements include:

  • Making the recruitment process more flexible, so doctors in training can better plan for a work / life balance, or personal requirements related to their health or caring responsibilities;
  • Promoting flexible working – through our Less Than Full Time Training (LTFT) pilot, and developing a flexible portfolio training;
  • Supported Return to Training reforms – helping doctors get back up to speed when they return to training after time out; and
  • Study Budget reform to improve trainees’ access to supportive educational activities.

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

I am delighted with the excellent progress made and outlined in this new report. It is important that we continue to empower doctors in training to voice their concerns regarding their training environment and act on them.

This report details the significant progress we have made over the last year.  However, we are not complacent and recognise that there is still much to be done. This work is a key priority for HEE.

I am grateful to everyone who has contributed to this work over the past year.

Over the next year, the main focus of work will be educational supervision and looking at what more can be done to help tackle bullying and harassment.

Professor Colin Melville, the General Medical Council’s Director of Education and Standards, said:

Doctors in training are facing pressures like never before, and it takes a lot of organisations to come together in order to make real improvements to their working lives. That is now happening, with progress on many fronts.

The GMC has made its own commitments, particularly to improve flexibility in training, and we are making good progress. Our annual national training survey is also a crucial tool to monitor and evaluate the impact of all these initiatives. It is vital that careers in medicine remain attractive to future generations of doctors, and work outlined in this report will contribute to that goal.

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

It is good to see the progress that has been made by Health Education England and other stakeholders across a whole series of initiatives. This important work will not only benefit doctors in training but also patients and the wider health service.

It’s true that there’s more to do – and the real test will be doctors on the ground seeing the improvements. The Academy and Colleges are keen to support the work in general and more specifically with direct input when it comes to ensuring junior doctors can train more flexibly.

Dr Jeeves Wijesuriya, BMA junior doctors committee chair, said:

We welcome the publication of this report; the work that this committee has overseen since the inception of these projects has contributed to some of the most significant changes to postgraduate medical training for a number of years.

While it is clear that many issues still exist, it is positive that this work has received the investment, time and collaborative working to bring about change.

The BMA will continue to work with other stakeholders to drive forwards this necessary change as the work of this group continues.

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The junior doctors’ contract dispute highlighted a number of issues involving doctors’ training and working environment. To address this, working with partners, we have been looking at how we can enhance the working lives of doctors in training.

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