Family-friendly policy recommended in doctor training review

Initiative seeks to ensure voice of trainees is both heard and heeded

The interim report suggests that multi-year training agreements be concluded between the training body and the trainee. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

The interim report suggests that multi-year training agreements be concluded between the training body and the trainee. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

Fri, Dec 20, 2013, 14:52

Nine recommendations designed to improve the training experience and quality of life for Non-Consultant Hospital Doctors (NCHDs) have been submitted to the Minister for Health James Reilly.

The recommendations are contained in an interim report prepared as part of a strategic review established earlier this year by Dr Reilly. The report recognises that at present there is no formal means of relaying the views of NCHDs to hospital managements, the Department and the HSE.

The proposals include moves to provide greater certainty for trainee doctors, allowing them to be told what training they will be given and in what hospital for two years instead of the current six months.

The paperwork associated with NCHDs’ rotations is also to be streamlined.

Greater efforts will be made to ensure more family-friendly practices and to facilitate doctors who are in a couple to be trained in the same setting. It is hoped this can be implemented for entrants beginning training next summer. The interim report suggests that multi-year training agreements be concluded between the training body and the trainee.

A working group has suggested steps to guarantee that doctors’ core training time is protected – a move that will improve the experience of both trainees and trainers.

In recognition of the fact that medical training in Ireland is longer than the current international norm, it is further recommended that programmes be changed to shorten the time needed to complete NCHD training.

Non-core task allocation is also to be reviewed with NCHDs calling for some work to be transferred to nursing staff who, in turn, should transfer some responsibilities to nursing assistants.

Regarding training supports, the interim reports considers that more account needs to be taken of the need for various specialities and the associated costs of training such as courses and examinations.

The working group responsible for drawing up the proposals is also calling for greater communication between doctors, hospital managements and the HSE. The appointment of a “Lead” NCHD representative is a key element to be introduced in 2014, the report states. Leads will be given a day per week to work on their representative role in hospitals with more than 200 doctors and half a day per week in smaller hospitals.

A pilot programme is also to be introduced next year with a view to supporting career planning for trainees. This pilot will seek to improve feedback between the training bodies and the HSE and work to set up a careers and training website for graduates.

Each of the proposals has an implementation target date and an indicative list of those responsible for delivery. They will be implemented initially on a sample of eight hospitals, both large and small and in a range of settings. They are Cork University Hospital; Mercy University Hospital; University College Hospital, Galway; the Mater Hospital; Limerick Regional Hospital; Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda; Tallaght Hospital; and the Midland Regional Hospital, Mullingar

Prof Eilis McGovern, national programme director for medical education, said it was important that NCHDs feel they are valued and are listened to by the Department, hospital management and the HSE. This review of their operations would help meet that goal, she said.

Dr Reilly said: “I want a public health system that values the contribution and commitment of trainee doctors.

He added: “Young people who are considering a career in medicine should feel confident that, while achieving the necessary qualifications may be challenging, a medical career in Ireland is fulfilling, rewarding and satisfying.”

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