Letters

Study leave for junior doctors Academic staff get a raw deal

BMJ 1994; 308 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.308.6934.983 (Published 09 April 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;308:983
  1. A P Campbell,
  2. B McDonald
  1. Nuffield Department of Pathology, Churchill John Radcliffe NHS Trust, John Radcliffe Campus, Oxford OX3 9DU
  2. Department of Neuropathology, Radcliffe Infirmary NHS Trust, Oxford OX2 6HE
  3. Newham General Hospital, London E13 8RU.

    EDITOR, - David P Coates's letter on study leave1 and the abridged paper on study leave for postgraduate trainees2 highlight the problems associated with the funding of discretionary study leave for doctors in the postgraduate training grades employed in the NHS. We wish to highlight the difficulties experienced by trainees employed on university contracts, some of whom experience financial hardship resulting from the lack of clearly defined budgets to fund their study leave. Only three of the 15 health districts surveyed by the Standing Committee on Postgraduate Medical Education made any provision for funding study leave taken by academic medical staff.3

    We posted a standard questionnaire, which was distributed across all specialities, to clinical lecturers holding honorary senior registrar contracts who worked in the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, during 1992. We obtained a 67% response (22/33); 15 replies were usable. The mean number of study leave days taken to attend courses and conferences in the previous year had been 6.5 (range 0-19) days. Only eight of the 15 respondents received full reimbursement of expenses; the remaining seven had had to pay on average £ 252.50 (range pounds sterling 90-pounds sterling560) themselves.

    Study leave remains an essential medium for postgraduate training. Our study found that the provision of funding for academic trainees was not uniform; this may result in a restriction of training opportunities to some medical staff employed by universities.

    References

    Leave should be protected and fully funded.

    1. B Lovett
    1. Nuffield Department of Pathology, Churchill John Radcliffe NHS Trust, John Radcliffe Campus, Oxford OX3 9DU
    2. Department of Neuropathology, Radcliffe Infirmary NHS Trust, Oxford OX2 6HE
    3. Newham General Hospital, London E13 8RU.

      EDITOR, - As a career surgical registrar I was disturbed to read David P Coates's letter suggesting that, because the contracted working week has been reduced to two thirds of its original hours, the time may have come to reduce annual study leave to 20 days.1 The letter was in the same issue as the abridged paper by John Temple and colleagues suggesting that trainees who have already acquired basic postgraduate qualifications require short courses in management awareness, audit techniques, computer literacy, etc, in addition to the intensive “hands on” courses required by many surgical specialities.2

      The reduction in junior doctors' working hours under the new deal is aimed at providing a safe service supported by senior house officers who are not overstretched and tired. cut in study leave and more independent study after hours surely brings us back to square one. A more sensible approach might be to include a clause when trust hospitals are set up to ensure that such study leave for the next generation of consultants is not only protected but also more adequately funded.

      References

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