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Inadequate medical training and education in Wales risks adding to frightening doctor shortages

October 1, 2012 12:03 PM

Inadequate junior doctor training and educational opportunities at Wales' hospitals are putting the Welsh NHS at risk as medical graduates could decide to

further their training outside of Wales.

A General Medical Council survey of 2,226 junior doctors in Wales revealed huge inconsistencies in the standard of medical training at Welsh hospitals.

Across all the health boards in Wales, junior doctors reported systemic weaknesses in the training opportunities and patient safety and care, including:

  • "Lack of consultant attendance during handover which represented a clinical supervision and patient safety issue" (Ysbyty Glan Clwyd, Betsi Cadwaladr UHB)
  • "Foundation year two trainees reported to be the most senior doctor at night" (Paediatric Surgery, UHW, Cardiff and Vale LHB)
  • "Insufficient theatre access due to an inappropriate balance between service and training and inadequate team structure impacting on training continuity" (Neurosurgery, UHW, Cardiff and Vale LHB)
  • "On call duties at Llandough Hospital were of no educational value" (Anaesthetics, Llandogh Hospital, Cardiff and Vale LHB)
  • "Inadequate levels of staffing and its impact upon the ability of the trainees to obtain the required level of experience" - (Diabetes and Endocrinology, UHW, Cardiff and Vale LHB)
  • "Ongoing training concerns in training provision in obstetrics anaesthesia, undermining and inadequate critical care training" (Anaesthetics, Glangwili Hospital, Hywel Dda Health Board)
  • "Inadequate clinical supervision in obstetrics anaesthesia and inappropriate on-call frequency" (Anaesthetics, Wrexham Maelor, Betsi Cadwaladr UHB)
  • "Wales ranked lowest (of all UK deaneries) for educational supervisor appraisal" (All Wales, All Programmes)

Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats said:

"We've had a summer of headlines where hospital units have had to close because of the lack of medical staff to keep them open. Poor medical training, immigration rules, the European Working Time Directive and service reconfiguration is creating the perfect storm in Wales. It is very clear that the botched way the Welsh Labour Government is running our NHS is having a detrimental effect on the training of our junior doctors.

"Trainee doctors play a vital role in the frontline running of our NHS and it is very important that these junior doctors get the best training and further education possible.

"Wales is at a clear disadvantage in attracting medical staff to our hospitals because of the standard of teaching and training at our hospitals. The findings of the General Medical Council make this quite clear. The ability of senior doctors and consultants to train junior doctors is hampered by Labour's mishandling the health system.

"Local Health Boards are spending millions of pounds on agency staff and locum doctors to provide temporary cover but this is neither financially sustainable nor safe for patients. Hospital units must have continuity among its medical staff wherever possible to ensure the highest medical care.

"The First Minister's attempt to attract medical staff to Wales doesn't seem to have been successful and local health boards are still wasting money on agency and locum staff. How can we convince junior doctors to come to Wales or stay here after they finish university when the teaching facilities don't offer what they need?

"I am very concerned that junior doctors who train in Wales go and advance their careers in England where more modern medical techniques and medicines are used. This will leave a frightening gap in service delivery and a big hole in an already worrying financial situation."