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Junior doctors have voiced worries over heavy workloads, an MPS survey reveals.

More than two thirds of the junior doctors had chosen a career in medicine because they wanted to help people, but a third said they were thinking of changing careers. MPS surveyed more than 350 junior doctors from across the UK who were finishing their first year on the wards.

The survey revealed that 70% of the junior doctors surveyed had enjoyed their first year; however 75% agreed that they had struggled with long hours, and 34% had felt isolated. It also found that 73% felt they didn’t have enough time to give patients the care they needed. More than half blamed heavy workloads, saying they had often worked beyond their contracted hours, and 34% said they felt isolated.

Dr Pallavi Bradshaw, medicolegal adviser at MPS, said: “It is encouraging to see that despite the struggles of their first year, 34% of respondents said that being a junior doctor was better than imagined and 32% were excited about their future career.

“It is a challenging yet rewarding time, but junior doctors must remember that they are not alone. Working in a clinical team allows them to help and support each other and MPS is here to support junior doctors as they progress throughout their career.”

Find out more

Read the MPS Preparing For Your F1 Post guide here.

Professionalism

Medicolegal adviser Dr Pallavi Bradshaw says it is important to be professional in and out of the hospital

Doctors remain top of the ‘most trusted’ professions in the Ipsos MORI poll for another year.

They have topped the list since the poll began in 1983. I read this like many of my colleagues with a sense of pride. However, as a profession we must never be complacent about the privileged and trusted position we hold in society.

The first duty listed of doctors in the GMC’s Good Medical Practice guidance states: “Patients must be able to trust doctors with their lives and health.” It goes without saying that a doctor must be competent and compassionate. We also must uphold patient safety regardless of how junior we are. Whilst we strive to be clinically and technically outstanding, sometimes we forget that those traits alone do not make a good professional.

Whilst Premier League footballers may be forgiven for off pitch indiscretions, such bad behaviour would less likely be tolerated if it involved doctors

Whilst Premier League footballers may be forgiven for off pitch indiscretions, such bad behaviour would less likely be tolerated if it involved doctors. So, we are expected to have several traits, that of a clinician, team member, patient champion and a generally good egg.

As junior doctors your professional ethics are challenged daily and the decisions you make define how you and the profession are perceived. The consequences can be devastating when a poor decision is taken in such circumstances.

Dr X, an ST6, was supervising Dr Y, an FY2, to insert a left-sided chest drain in a teaching hospital. The FY2 had never performed the procedure. Unfortunately, the FY2 was having difficulties, but did not verbalise this to Dr X. Complications ensued and the patient went into respiratory arrest. A nurse filed an incident form. Both doctors were criticised during an internal investigation for not acting in the best interests of the patient.

Whilst it was accepted that there were benefits for the FY2 in learning new techniques neither had obtained valid consent from the patient, who thought that Dr X would be performing the procedure. Further, Dr Y should have been aware of his limits and asked for help. Both were criticised for leaving it to a nurse to fill out an incident form as they should have taken responsibility to do this.

In another scenario a junior doctor, Dr A, saw a consultant in a clinic where they worked. The consultant requested blood tests and handed a handwritten blood form to the junior doctor. Dr A ticked some more boxes for additional tests, which she thought would be of benefit. This was clearly unprofessional as it undermined the consultant and was dishonest. There is clearly a distinction from a clinically sound doctor and one who upholds professionalism.
There is clearly a distinction from a clinically sound doctor and one who upholds professionalism
Whether we like it or not we will be held up as possessing a higher moral code and expect to behave and act in certain ways as well as be good clinically. MPS has created a Guide to Professionalism for junior doctors. To request a copy contact Carol Davies at carol.davies@mps.org.uk

Hot topic

The GMC’s latest advice around social media has caused much debate. Here chair of the GMC, Professor Sir Peter Rubin, comments on the guidance

We recently published the latest version of our core guidance for doctors, Good Medical Practice, setting out the standards we expect from every doctor practising in the UK. This latest edition is a document that’s shorter and easier to navigate. It’s set out in a different way, corresponding to the four areas that will be assessed as part of revalidation.

I want to focus on what I believe has been one of the most profound changes over the last decade: the proliferation of social media. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and blog sites offer us a plethora of new ways in which to engage with fellow health practitioners, the media and the public. But as well as offering us opportunities, they present some challenges.

Since publication, there’s been lively debate on the particular piece of guidance that states if we’re identifying ourselves as doctors in online discussions about health issues, we should say who we are, just as we normally do when writing to the columns of newspapers. I want to stress that this isn’t a requirement: no-one is going to get struck off for failing to reveal their identity.

By its very nature, social media is anything but private. Declaring we’re doctors adds weight and credibility to our views
The GMC isn’t concerned with what doctors tweet about food, fashion or football, and we acknowledge that everyone has a right to remain anonymous in their private life, outside practice. But by its very nature – social media is anything but private. Declaring we’re doctors adds weight and credibility to our views. With that privilege comes a responsibility not to undermine public confidence in the profession, whether we’re discussing waiting lists or transfer lists.

The GMC isn’t out to curtail anyone’s freedom to express their opinion on medical issues; a large part of GMP is about better engaging with colleagues and patients, and better reporting of problems – something we all need a timely reminder of in light of the Francis report.

But I would suggest that a social network is not the place to raise a concern. Doctors with concerns can contact our confidential helpline (0161 923 6399). If we’re going to get the best for patients, particularly in financially constrained times, we need to embrace digital technology and use it to our advantage.

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