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Junior doctors warned on taking up locum posts in foundation year 1

Authors: Helen Jaques 

Publication date:  07 Mar 2012


Foundation year 1 doctors should not take up locum appointment for service posts and should involve their medical school and foundation school if they wish to take up a locum appointment for training position, the General Medical Council has warned.

The GMC has written to more than 1600 locum agencies, medical staffing officers, human resources leads, training and education leads, postgraduate deans, and foundation school directors to emphasise that the provisional registration granted to foundation year 1 doctors does not permit them to work in service posts, whether substantive or locum.

Locum appointment for service posts are used for service delivery and do not provide training that will enable foundation doctors to meet the competencies to complete foundation year 1, the regulator says.

Provisionally registered doctors are permitted to take up locum appointment for training posts but only if they have the approval of their medical school, the post meets the GMC standards for a normal foundation year 1 job with respect to supervision and training, and the post leads to a certificate of experience, it adds.

Under these rules, which the GMC says have existed since 2007 but are not widely known, doctors who have held provisional registration for more than two years would be working outside the scope of their registration if they took up a service post.

The restrictions might also affect doctors from overseas seeking to work in the UK who do not have enough experience to be granted full registration, the GMC says.

“Our main concern is to make sure that doctors starting out in their careers are properly supervised in posts that will enable them to gain the competencies in the foundation programme curriculum and meet the outcomes we have set for this period of training, so that patients receive safe, high quality care,” the GMC’s postgraduate board has said.

The guidance might prove frustrating for foundation year 1 doctors who have been relying on locum posts for some extra income but is sound from an educational and patient safety point of view, said Ben Molyneux, deputy chairman of the BMA’s Junior Doctors Committee.

“The most junior people in the service need to be very well supervised in practice, and locum posts such as the odd night shift are never going to be able to provide this. It’s just not appropriate,” he said.

Helen Jaques news reporter BMJ Careers

 hjaques@bmj.com

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