Newly qualified doctors feel poorly prepared to look after very ill patientsHospitals with fewer senior staff on duty show higher death ratesPatients have the right to “qualified and adequately experienced doctors” says health minister
Many newly qualified doctors don”t feel prepared to look after very ill patients a study has found
Newly qualified doctors often lack confidence and don”t feel prepared to look after very ill patients, a study has found.
Senior colleagues also agreed that junior staff are not ready for certain situations, prompting the need for more stringent education.
In response to the findings the Royal College of Surgeons has called for a core national medical curriculum to be introduced, with students spending more time in clinical environments.
Experts from the University of Edinburgh, analysed the results of ten studies detailing the views of newly qualified doctors, consultants and education supervisors about junior doctor preparedness.
They found that junior doctors felt poorly prepared for dealing with acutely sick patients compared with other aspects of care.
Writing in the Postgraduate Medical Journal, Dr Sam Smith and colleagues said: “The care of acutely unwell patients is complex, involving a myriad of technical and non-technical skills in time-pressured situations and increasingly litigious environments.
“It is therefore unlikely that new graduates will ever feel completely at ease with acute care.”
The research also revealed hospitals with the fewest senior doctors on duty had the highest death rates, with patientsless likely to get prompt treatment, reflecting concerns about a gaps in consultant cover.
Professor Norman Williams, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, said: “These findings about low confidence of new doctors in coping with acutely ill patients do not come as a surprise.
“In recent years we have seen increasing divergence in the curricula of medical schools in the UK, meaning that new doctors often have very different skills depending on where they graduate from.
Public health minister Anne Milton believes all NHS patients should have access to “qualified and adequately experienced doctors “
“The RCS would like to see a core national medical school curriculum and greater time spent in hospitals and other clinical care environments.”
Professor Williams stated that greater support should be provided to new doctors and the introduction of practical courses would be an effective way of tackling the situation.
The findings follow mounting pressure to better equip junior medics.
The new paper suggests the problem has worsened since the introduction of new standards for medical training introduced by the General Medical Council (GMC) in 2003.
However Marion Matheson, co-chair of the British Medical Association”s medical student committee education, described the education process as “rigorous and intensive”, ruling out any lapses in confidence.
She said: “All medical students undergo a rigorous and intensive five-to-six-year medical degree that prepares them to work in our NHS.
“It is not surprising that some medical graduates see acute medicine as a challenge, given how complicated and intensive it can be, but all doctors have the support ofother colleagues when practising in this field as well as the skills totreat patients effectively.”
Public Health Minister Anne Milton stated that patients should have access to “qualified and adequately experienced doctors as and when they need them”.
She added that these universal standards should apply across the NHS.