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Medicopolitical Digest

Health minister will meet the BMA on staff shortagesGP leaders want more doctors involved in commissioningTobacco firms sign new deal on sports sponsorshipMPs review how choices are made in the NHS

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: (Published 11 February 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:404
  1. Linda Beecham

    Health minister will meet the BMA on staff shortages

    Mr Gerald Malone, the minister for health, has agreed to meet representatives of the BMA to discuss the difficulties many hospitals face in recruiting sufficient junior hospital staff. The main difficulty is in accident and emergency departments. Some hospitals have asked patients to stay away unless absolutely necessary or to consult their general practitioners while others have warned that patients could expect long waits or that the casualty unit would have to close at night. In order to keep its casualty department open Peterborough NHS Trust is offering local general practitioners pounds sterling50 a hour—five times the rate that junior doctors would receive—to work in the department.

    There are several reasons for the shortage of staff. The closure of some units, such as at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London, means more pressure on the units taking the extra patients. The Royal College of Surgeons has dropped accident and emergency as a specialty for the fellowship examination and junior doctors are choosing other specialties. At the end of 1994 the maximum number of contracted hours that junior doctors could work was reduced from 83 to 72, although the BMA believes that many junior doctors are still working more than 72hours. Junior doctors traditionally change jobs every February and August which has aggravated the problem.

    Although the health minister said that the number of junior doctors had increased from 23875 in 1991 to over 27100, the Medical Manpower Standing Advisory Committee, chaired by Professor Sir Colin Campbell, is expected to report shortly that one in five junior doctors was not in practice five years after qualifying. One reason is the …

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