Junior doctors describe on-call chaos at Royal Sussex as chief promises action

Posted On 14 Feb 2011 at 7:49 am

Junior doctors working at a Brighton hospital have described their on-call shifts as busy, chaotic and stressful.

Asked to choose three words to describe how their on-call shifts should be, they said educational, supported and organised.

The young doctors at the Royal Sussex County Hospital were responding to an internal “snapshot survey”.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of the trust that runs the Royal Sussex, said: “The findings were extremely honest, and at times brutal, but by virtue priceless.

“Our junior doctors are the engine of the hospital, along with our frontline nurses, and so they feel it more than any of us when we drive at 70mph in second gear.”

Mr Selbie, who heads the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “The plan is … to get better at listening to our junior doctors.

“That way we can focus more time and energy on the things that they tell us will improve their morale and efficiency, and as a result the safety and quality of the care we deliver to our patients.”

He said that a separate snapshot – the 2010 annual GMC survey of trainee doctors – flagged up “possible strengths and, more importantly, possible areas of concern which we must pay attention to – the trainee doctors who are deciding which hospitals to apply to almost certainly will”.

The feedback from first year junior doctors working in emergency medicine had, for example, rated the Royal Sussex in the top 25 per cent in the country.

But, Mr Selbie said, among second year junior doctors in the same specialty, the results were much less positive.

He added that the hospital management would look closely at the findings to establish the reasons for areas of concern and what action needed to be taken.

The internal survey was carried out by specialist registrar Dr Hannah Morgan and a tetam of her peers.

Mr Selbie said: “When Hannah and the team presented these findings to a national event attended by the Secretary of State for Health it won first prize.

“The bigger prize though was the comments from countless other hospitals that they knew they had exactly the same issues, but had not had the courage to take this crucial first step toward solving them.”

He also cautioned: “As is always the case with snapshot surveys the results should not be over interpreted.”

  1. Valerie Paynter, saveHOVE Reply

    My 20 years as a renal and renal transplant patient at the RSCH have been instructive. Longstanding and chronic-conditions patients could tell this man what has changed that needs changing back again!

    One of the biggest problems junior doctors face in my view is the moveable and insecure ground under them – by which I mean agency staff and bureaucratic tangle and endless changes and tinkerings instead of a rock solid interlinked structure within which to just slot and concentrate for their contracted year. I’m talking nurses, cleaners and other support staff as well as IT systems and housing.

    Once upon a time the RSCH has accommodation on-site for on-call doctors as well as a nurses residence. It matters that this has been lost.

    A & E units countrywide need to find a way to weed out the drug addicts, alcoholics and people getting wasted for ‘fun’ and as a leisure pursuit and treat them in isolated crazy areas so that all other patients can be treated in a calmer environment and the crazy area can be structured with the security needed to allow doctors to work unhindered by the craziness.

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