Earlier this month, David Cameron set out his plan for a 7 day NHS, focused on both primary and secondary care delivery, with: 'key decision makers being around at the weekend; junior doctors being properly supported... this isn't about NHS staff working 7 days a week... its about different shift patterns.'
Mentored in the NHS myself and currently on a sabbatical abroad, it isn't so clear to me how a 7 day week plan will be delivered if the full complement of teams across specialties are not present in the same way as the working week. Furthermore what the PM fails to realise is that all health care providers are designed to provide care on the basis of the training they receive.
During undergraduate days an initial time frame is set aside for theory yet due to the practical nature of the job, patient exposure is essential. Without it a nurse for example cannot deliver medication and a doctor cannot examine a patient and treat accordingly. Therefore undergraduates and trainees are given designated time in hospital and primary care for teaching, mentored by specialists and relevant educators. This is typically through on the shop floor exposure, assessing patients first hand, or through discussions at multi-disciplinary team meetings where complex cases are discussed by a multitude of health professionals. I wonder therefore how David plans to ensure training is maintained and not compromised. Does the 7 day plan actually include appropriate training time? If primary care surgeries are opening on the weekend then trainees must be present to be part of such. If key decision makers are around on the weekend with use of diagnostics then trainees must also be present. Yet in the convoluted world of training, tuition is not exactly free and senior educators are unlikely to teach voluntary. My concern therefore is a potential rising cost of training fees at a time where studying such disciplines has already risen significantly.
My passion for the NHS remains steadfast.
David recently stated the NHS is safe in his hands. I hope he has deep pockets.