BBC news has reported that proposals are being put forward to shorten medical training for doctors in the UK. There are raised concerns that this could greatly compromise the care and safety of patients.
Reducing the length of training programmes would lead to the time it takes to reach consultant level being cut by two years. Despite the widespread unease, however, The Department of Health has maintained that the changes would only take place if they are in the 'best interests of patients'.
The Shape of Training review, an independent assessment of specialist doctor training undertaken in 2013, made an extensive range of suggestions. One of the proposals was to shorten consultant training from between eight to ten years to between six to eight years. Another suggestion was to allow doctors to be registered to practise when they left medical school, rather than waiting a year.
Natalie Churney, an associate in Penningtons Manches' clinical negligence team, commented: “A reduced training programme could be potentially harmful, leading to new consultants not having the same confidence, expertise or experience which consultants have today. These changes cannot be rushed into and close attention needs to be paid to what is best for patient safety. Avoidable mistakes could be made by someone who does not have the level of expertise needed.”
The Royal College of Physicians has also expressed concerns, saying that shortening doctors’ training would compromise both 'quality of patient care and patient safety'.