Report claims trainee doctors at Northwick Park Hospital are making decisions ‘beyond their competence’

Northwick Park Hospital

Northwick Park Hospital - Credit: Archant

General Medical Council has raised serious concerns about training for foundation medics

Trainee doctors at Northwick Park Hospital (NPH) are not getting adequate support and are “routinely” being left to make decisions beyond their competence, according to a report released today.

The dossier by the General Medical Council (GMC), raises “serious concerns” about some aspects of training at the hospital in Watford Road, specifically for foundation doctors.

Among the concerns listed include: foundation doctors in general surgery not receiving adequate and timely supervision, tasks handed over to the night team not always completed and foundation doctors in general surgery “routinely asked” to make decisions beyond their competence.

Compiled over a three month period, the report “gives a valuable insight into the experiences of almost 12,000 students and doctors” in training at education providers across the capital.

On Northwick Park it says: “The service appears to be extremely stretched and this has resulted in significant patient safety concerns.”

It adds that trainees often had no supervisors on wards and were unsure as to who their superiors were.

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However, the report did praise a “strong educational culture” at the hospital and indicated that students themselves praised the organisation, quantity and quality of teaching and feedback received.

Professor Rory Shaw, medical director at the North West London Hospitals NHS Trust, said he was pleased that the GMC were satisfied with six out of the eight areas that it explored.

He added: “In particular, I am heartened by the fact that student doctors praised the Trust for the quantity and quality of teaching, as well as the feedback they receive.”

However, he added: “Over the past winter our emergency services have been extremely busy. We perform a broad range of emergency surgery at Northwick Park and St Mark’s hospitals.

“We recognise that over this busy time we have not always been able to ensure every junior doctor received appropriate supervision and teaching. It is good to have this feedback from junior doctors. We now intend to appoint more surgical consultants to ensure that teaching sessions are not cancelled due to emergencies and that supervision is always of a high standard.”

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC, said: “We will work with NHS Trusts, senior doctors and others at a local level to ensure that they are meeting our standards.

“We have now set up a rapid reaction team to check hospitals quickly where we have concerns about the quality of training and support.”

The report concludes: “The trust has responded positively to the findings and has put in place immediate short-term measures to deal with the concerns

pending a full action plan.”