Dr Batt-Rawden for The Sunday Times: instead of addressing the causes of poor staffing, the NHS asks junior doctors to plug ever-growing gaps

In a letter to The Sunday Times, DAUK expresses concern regarding recent guidance from HEE that junior doctors can be redeployed to other departments within a Trust in response to winter pressures. Asked to respond to comments by Dr Jeeves Wijesuriya, Chair of the Junior Doctors’ Committee of the BMA, DAUK’s letter, published in the Sunday Times today said:

‘Our colleague Dr Jeeves Wijesuriya, of the British Medical Association’s junior doctors’ committee, is right: redeploying doctors into areas of medicine with which they may be wholly unfamiliar presents a real risk to patients (“Fear as rookies plug hospital doctor gaps”, News, last week). Instead of addressing the causes of poor staffing, the NHS asks junior doctors to plug ever-growing holes. This compromises safety and further damages morale.

Simply rearranging the deckchairs will not solve a workforce crisis in the NHS.’

Our Chair, Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden said: 

“Junior doctors are far from being rookies, and often have a decade of experience under their belt. However, it is simply not safe to ask surgeon, for example, to see undifferentiated patients in the Emergency Department, who may be presenting with anything from cardiac symptoms to mental health issues.  This policy is poorly thought out, and instead HEE should be addressing the root causes for a staffing crisis in the NHS. Moving junior doctors from the specialty they have chosen to work in may impact negatively on their training, and risks further damage to already rock-bottom morale.”

 “Further, have we not learned anything from the case of Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba? After all, she was a paediatric register redeployed to an acute area of paediatrics which she had not worked in for several years due to staffing gaps. Such practices becoming the norm will no doubt put patients at risk.”