Date Published: 14 December 2009

Cuts to training budget could threaten patient care, says junior doctors' leader (BMA, UK)

Health News from the United Kingdom (UK).

The BMA's Junior Doctor Committee (JDC), has called on the Department of Health to halt their review of training funding as it threatens to cut millions of pounds from junior doctor training.

The review of the Multi Professional Education and Training Levy which will decide the future of how NHS training funding is distributed is currently underway. The review deals with the funding of both undergraduate education and postgraduate training for all healthcare workers.

Changes could start rolling out in a piecemeal fashion as early as April 2010. The BMA's Junior Doctor Committee passed a motion at its recent meeting expressing serious and urgent concerns in the principles and assumptions currently underpinning the review.

Dr Shree Datta, chair of the BMA's Junior Doctor Committee said:

" We are seriously alarmed that the impact of this review has not been thought through. The idea that the NHS could press ahead with this as early as next year is simply dangerous."

Junior doctors' salaries are paid in part by their employer for the service they provide to the patients and in part by the Department of Health for their time spent training. The review is threatening to reduce the training component of their salary which will make it more expensive for hospitals to employ junior doctors.

Dr Datta added:

" Fully trained doctors don't grow on trees and the Department of Health needs to be very careful that they don't end up making the training of doctors so unattractive or the funding system so unstable that hospitals no longer want to do it.

Training is seen as a soft target, but it is crucial to maintaining high standards of patient care. The review is discussing how billions are being spent on the training of healthcare workers, yet the Department of Health has no idea how to measure the quality of training or what proportion of a junior doctor's time is spent training.

The time has come for this review to stop and for the Department of Health to listen to the serious concerns of the medical profession.

The JDC has serious and urgent concerns about the principles and assumptions currently underpinning the review of the Multi Professional Education and Training Levy (MPET) and calls for the Department of Health to:

  • Make all the information in the MPET budget available for external independent review
  • Make public all the research related to the review
  • State explicitly the underlying funding principles for external review and stakeholder agreement
  • Ensure full and meaningful engagement with all stakeholders in all stages of review and decision-making
  • Develop and fully validate quality metrics prior to implementation of funding changes based on Quality Metrics
  • Postpone any implementation of the review until the above has been done

Source: British Medical Association.

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