The Times (£) reports today that 1 in 5 junior doctors are leaving their positions after two years because of the impact of the EUWTD regulations on their training. However the full regulations have only been in place a year, which seems a little premature to make this judgement, and no comparison with say 5 or 10 years ago is given. Whilst there are serious issues around training and continuity in patient care, the latter will be present whether no matter how long a doctor is on duty as at some point they need a rest and to handover care. And a return to 100+ hours a week is in no one’s interest. Added to this, a facts they don’t mention are that by 2017 there will be more female medical graduates than male, and many women want to be able to work flexibly; and that quite honestly, if this is the stimulus to some doctors going abroad, then they will be welcomed with open arms in many countries where there is a huge deficit of medical care (and from which the NHS has absorbed thousands of staff). I don’t mean to trivialise, but I do think that in this debate we need to look both at the bigger picture and the issues such as workforce changes that will arise no matter how many hours in the working week.
Whereas the Chief Nursing Officer thinks the White Paper changes give nurses an opportunity to prove their worth, an article in the Nursing Times today focus almost entirely on nurses’ rights rather than patient care. If they spend their time backing the Unison legal challenge against White Paper changes, nurses will get what they fear – being left out of the new commissioning landscape – rather than making clear their genuine and important contribution to the development of ideas and their intrinsic value. Having informed patients, links with the local authority (that many community nurses already have), local knowledge, awareness of accountability and public health are all skills which they should be highlighting as essential to consortia as they consider who to commission services from. With the move to more healthcare delivery in the community, nurses will be at the centre of activity. Right now they should be ensuring that care in the future is organised in the best way for patients and assessing their skills to identify how they will need to adapt.
Finally, I would never claim to have been the first to use the ‘2020’ numerals in our brand-name but a PA agency recently asked me about infringement of our name and reputation. It does appear that in the Think-Tank and consultation world it’s crept in over the past couple of years here with the Midwifery Council (who talk about both the date and having ‘2020 vision’) and here with the RSA then there’s 2020plus and mocom2020 and news2020. Most are talking about the date. So I think we may just have to be patient until the year 2021 when the others will have changed their names and we can carry on casting a vision for the future!