Female clinician in surgical scrubs

New agreement reached to benefit NHS junior doctors

Junior doctors in the NHS will now also be able to undertake their training in independent hospitals after a new agreement was reached between independent healthcare providers and the NHS.

A new position statement has been published by the Independent Healthcare Providers Network (IHPN), NHS England and NHS Improvement, Health Education England (HEE) and the Confederation of Postgraduate Schools of Surgery (CoPSS) setting out a series of high-level principles to ensure medical trainees have new opportunities to train in elective surgery or diagnostic activities taking place in the independent sector.

Many independent hospitals already actively support the education of junior doctors, with IHPN and a number of other key health bodies such as the Royal College of Surgeons having long called for an agreement of this nature.

The position statement sets out a number of principles including around the need for trainees to always be supervised by a consultant who is a recognised clinical or educational supervisor in the NHS; as well as for training to be open to trainees regardless of level (including core trainees) with appropriate levels of supervision, tailored to meet their needs. NHS indemnity must also be in place for the doctor in training to work in the independent sector site for the NHS work undertaken.

While these principles will initially apply to those providers within the NHS’ national hospital contract, further work will take place to extend the framework for clinical training into the rest of the independent sector.

David Hare, Chief Executive of the Independent Healthcare Providers Network, said: “Independent healthcare providers can provide an excellent training ground for junior doctors and the sector is committed to playing its part in training the next generation of medical professionals. Indeed, IHPN, along with a range of healthcare bodies, has for a number of years been calling for reform to ensure that the sector can safely and effectively fulfil its duty in this area.

“We are therefore delighted to announce this new agreement which will significantly increase the opportunities for medical trainees all over the country to further develop and hone their skills in independent sector hospitals, and ultimately improve the care delivered to patients.”

Vice-President of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, Professor Cliff Shearman, added: “Trainees are our future surgical workforce. Their skills will be sorely needed as we tackle the backlog of operations created by the COVID pandemic.

“We are delighted our work with NHSE, HEE and the Independent Health Providers Network has led to this agreement. It’s only right that NHS-funded treatment should help train the NHS workforce of the future. Every opportunity should be taken to provide them with access to good quality training opportunities.”

Around half a million NHS procedures every year are delivered by independent hospitals, and with a historic agreement having been struck during the coronavirus pandemic to utilise almost all available independent hospital capacity to support the NHS, there is a growing interconnectivity between independent providers and the health service.

Hundreds of thousands of NHS patients (including those needing critical cancer care) have been treated in independent facilities.

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