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#GPnews: Junior doctor morale review to only address ‘non-contractual issues’

Top headlines 

Physician associate training places to expand by 220% next year

Pregnant women ‘should get £3k personal budget to cover maternity costs’

17.45 And that’s it for today – make sure you join us tomorrow for rolling updates on health news and what it means for GPs.

16.30 Independent review into junior doctors’ morale…will now only look at non-contractual issues

The independent review into junior doctors’ morale, recently announced by the Department of Health, will only focus on non-contractual issues.

The review, which will be lead by Professor Dame Sue Bailey, chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, will also explore junior doctor training and the support they receive – in a bid to gain a ‘better understanding of junior doctors’ experience.’ 

working late - burnout - stress

working late – burnout – stress

However, it has emerged that it will only make recommendations on the long-standing ‘non-contractual issues’ that affect morale – and not contractual issues – including ‘working environment’, relationship between staff and employer’, and ‘competiting demands between NHS service requirements and supporting doctors to progress in their careers.’ 

Professor Dame Bailey said: ‘I am privileged to have been asked to lead this review and look forward to working with colleagues from a range of relevant organisations whose input will be invaluable.

‘This work is crucial to improve working life for junior doctors and, as we know, improving the morale of staff will improve the quality of patient care. That is why this is such an important task and so, I am sure, all parties will be fully committed to ensuring we are successful.’ 

What is the latest on the junior doctor row? 

Junior Doctor Protest

After Jeremy Hunt’s decision to impose a new contract on junior doctors, the BMA has subsequently announced it is launching a judicial review over what is calls the ‘embarrassing’ revelation that the Government failed to carry out an equality impact assessment before imposing a new contract on junior doctors in England. 

It has also announced three more 48-hour strikes in March and April, during which junior doctors will only provide emergency care.

But NHS Employers has expressed its ‘disappointment’ at new junior doctor strikes, adding that further strike action would cause disruption to patient care and that it believes that the final contract is safe and fair. 

Read the full story here

14.15  The RCGP has tweeted this afternoon that it is looking forward to seeing the outcome of the Scottish government’s announcement on the GP budget.

We will keep you updated on the outcome of the announcement. 

In anticipation of the impending government announcement on the GP budget, RCGP Scotland did an analysis on general practice’s allocation of the NHS budget for the region, and discovered that it has been cut by £1.6bn over the last 10 years. Read Pulse’s story here

12.30  A GP in New Zealand advertising a $400,000 (£190,000) job at his practice has said he has been overwhelmed by the amount of applications submitted for the vacancy – but claims 99% of them were ‘trash’. 

Speaking to the Guardian Dr Alan Kenny, a GP at a rural practice in Tokoroa in the North Island, has been looking for a junior doctor for two years – and is willing to offer a generous package including a $400,000 salary, three months of annual leave and no night or weekend work.

But Dr Kenny said despite his practice receiving hundreds of applications, the majority of them did not match the job’s requirements, adding that he has subsequently been left feeling ‘tired, pissed off and dispirited’ by the response. 

11.00  And it doesn’t look as though Jeremy Hunt’s day is getting any better.. 

Scores of junior doctors have flocked to the Department of Health’s Richmond House HQ in central London this morning to unveil a large letter with 50,000 signatures from the public showing their support for junior doctors – following Hunt’s imposition of the new contract

10.25  It has also emerged this morning that health secretary Jeremy Hunt used ‘unverified and unpublished study data’ to support his plans for a seven-day NHS. 

Jeremy Hunt - online

Last year, Mr Hunt claimed that ‘6,000 people lose their lives each year because there isn’t a ‘proper seven day service in hospitals’. 

This figure was subsequently used as a key tool for Mr Hunt to back up his plans for a new junior doctor contract – which would see junior doctors working more weekends. 

But the BBC reports that emails from NHS England show that Mr Hunt knew details of the study into weekend deaths at least two months before it was published, and based the 6,000 figure on ‘his understanding of the data’.

9.45 This morning we are leading on Health Education England’s proposed move to expand the primary care workforce this year by radically boosting the number of physician associate training places.

Pulse has learned that Health Education England will commission 657 physician associate training places for next year’s intake, an increase of 220%.


Read the full story here

What is a physician associate?

BP diabetes clinic blood pressure PPL

In the UK, there are roughly 200 PAs working predominately in hospitals and a newly qualified PA is classed at Band 7, rising to Band 8a with five years’ experience and a relevant master’s degree.

There is currently no formal regulation of PAs, although the DH has confirmed they are looking at 

pay £2,400 for their junior staff member, though speculated this could increase in future.

The NHS began advertising for 200 US physician associates, . But Pulse revealed last month that only 35 offers had been made, with just 6 candidates for general practice.