Covid-19: HCSA presses for answers to junior doctor concerns

HCSA has been pressing for answers on behalf of junior doctor members affected by forced changes due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Top concerns identified by members of the JD subcommittee included:

  • interruption to training and the status of ARCP (Annual Review of Competence Progression)
  • concerns over the suspension of parts of the 2016 contract affecting working hours and rotas, and the timeframe of the suspension
  • the impact of high-intensity rotas on those with childcare needs
  • clarity over the role of exception reporting
  • the status of annual leave accrued during the Covid-19 outbreak.

An HCSA delegation met Health Education England’s interim CEO Wendy Reid last week to relay some of the key issues around training.

She confirmed that the current unprecedented situation meant that planning was still in flux, but suggested that trainees can expect news within weeks on the new plan for rotations. It is still hoped that things can return to normal by autumn.

HEE is preparing new detailed ARCP guidelines which are expected imminently.

HCSA has also made representations on behalf of Junior Doctor members concerned at the agreement struck between the BMA and NHS Employers (NHSE).

While acknowledging movement on many of the initial concerns in a subsequent redraft of the BMA-NHSE agreement, HCSA president Dr Claudia Paoloni warned in a letter to NHSE director of employment relations and reward Paul Wallace of the impact that a “scarcity of information” on the remaining issues was having on doctors affected.

Worse, the fact that many issues have been delegated to local level is complicated by the postponement of LNC and Junior Doctor Forums by some Trusts.

HCSA also set down a marker as the NHS prepares for “phase two” of its Covid-19 response, warning that employers “should only consider deviating from agreed terms and conditions where there is no other option … it is vitally important that staff are used in a way that is sustainable.

“There must be a clear boundary between the current exceptional circumstances and that point at which the NHS begins to tackle the backlog of deferred work.”