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Cutting junior doctor hours will damage training, BMA warns

Future generations of GPs will not get the experience they need during training if a working hours limit is introduced for junior doctors, the BMA has warned.

The European Working Time Directive, which will reduce trainees weekly hours from 56 to 48, is set to be introduced on 1 August.

The BMA has warned that the cut will make it difficult for junior doctors to get the required experience, and has called for urgent action, including the recruitment of more consultants, to ensure the quality of their training is maintained.

It says the NHS should move away from the current model of care, in which trainees are responsible for delivering such a large proportion of service, sometimes at the expense of their training.

The BMA argues that the long term solution should be to expand the number of consultants, and also calls for a series of short-term practical solutions to be considered, including:

• The re-introduction of training lists – which ensure that trainees assist with procedures which are suitable for their stage of training– for all junior doctors working in operative specialties

• Increasing the flexibility of training programmes so that doctors can take more time to progress, and gain appropriate experience where necessary

• Additional funding for trusts to free up consultant trainers to supervise junior doctors

• Investment in simulators and skills labs – where doctors can practise techniques using technology which simulates an operation

Dr Andy Thornley, chairman of the BMA's Junior Doctors Committee, said: ‘The NHS has had 11 years to prepare for this. Now there are only 100 days to go, and there are real questions about how we can maintain current standards of training.

‘It is vital for all NHS patients that we continue to train the high quality consultants and GPs of the future.

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