The British Medical Association has called for more investment in simulators and skills labs to maintain training opportunities for junior doctors as their hours come down.
The BMA says facilities being piloted in the North West could help trainees to develop their skills as traditional training opportunities are cut with the full application of the European Working Time Directive.
The doctors’ organisation is concerned that many hospitals remain unprepared for the full implementation of the directive in 100 days time, on 1 August. It will cut the maximum number of hours that junior doctors can work per week from 56 to 48.
The BMA is also concerned that the cut in hours will make it difficult for some specialties to get the “hands on” training experience they need.
The North West has been piloting ‘dry lab’ facilities within a theatre area. Trainees can use these at any time of the day or night to practice a skill in which they lack experience or confidence, with feedback and consultant supervision as required.
Dr Andy Thornley, chair of the BMA’s junior doctors’ committee, said: “The NHS has had 11 years to prepare for this. Now there are only 100 days to go, and there are real questions about how we can maintain current standards of training. This change is going to happen, and trusts need to be implementing practical solutions now.”
Other ‘short term, practical solutions’ put forward by the BMA include re-introducing training lists so that trainees assist with relevant procedures, increasing the flexibility of training programmes, and finding additional funds for the supervision of junior doctors.
In the long term, the BMA wants a major expansion of consultant numbers, so less day to day care is delivered by trainees.