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Health Insight August 2002: Reform of the junior doctor grade

  Plans for the biggest reform and modernisation of the junior doctors grade, which will give young doctors in training better career opportunities, were launched by the Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson. The report, ‘Unfinished Business’, says its main aim is to introduce structured training for doctors at Senior House Officers (SHO) grade through closely managed training programmes. This will ensure that as many doctors who wish to enter higher specialist or GP training can do so. Professor Sir Graeme Catto, President of the GMC, and a member of the working group which prepared the report, said, ‘We now look forward to working with the health departments across the UK to reflect the principles of the report in future arrangements for new doctors.’

There are 19,000 SHOs in the UK – nearly half of all doctors in training. At about this time of the year some 4,700 new doctors, who have just finished medical school, start work in hospitals. A third of them will be working too many hours, according to the British Medical Association. This is in spite of rotas being limited to fifty-six hours a week since August 2001. Dr Trevor Pickersgill, the junior doctors’ leader said, ‘Although working hours are slowly coming down, the pace of hospital life has intensified, with more acutely ill patients being treated and shorter stays in hospital.’

Source: Press release (DoH), BBC Online

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