More guidance for junior doctors
The Government has announced new plans for junior doctors which will include an obligation for them to shadow more experienced doctors for at least the first four months of their first job. The new intake of junior doctors commences in August of each year throughout England. Year upon year statistical analysis has shown that death rates within hospitals and among patients who have received advice at hospitals increases during this period.The NHS Medical Director, Sir Bruce Keogh, has said that he believes this move will help to improve patient safety ensuring that a high quality of service is “at the heart of the modern NHS”.Junior doctors have received much criticism over recent years regarding their expertise and capabilities. Indeed, many medical injury claims are based on the advice given by such inexperienced medics. However, who is really to blame for this?Benjamin Ward, medical injury solicitor at Ashtons Legal, comments that: “since the EU working directive limiting the amount of hours employees can undertake per week was introduced, it has significantly hampered and curtailed the learning time provided to our junior doctors. We have to remember that many medics are making life and death decisions and when our junior doctors have not had enough exposure to this throughout their training, there is a greater chance that this could result in clinical error. This is an on-going problem that the NHS are going to encounter continually and I am not convinced that four months of shadowing or supervision is going to eradicate this. Junior doctors cannot and should not be blamed however.Of course, this does not assist or comfort those patients who have been at the wrong end of a junior doctor’s error of judgement and if the NHS choose to continually expose patients to junior doctors, they need to be alert to the fact that such patients will need compensating when mistakes and clinical errors are made.”
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