Junior Doctors Forced Outside Competence?

The Daily Telegraph suggests that some 23% of junior doctors are “forced to cope with problems beyond their clinical competence or experience”. This is based on research by the General Medical Council.

This is in part connected with the working time limit of 48 hours per week, where two-thirds exceed that limit. Additionally 31% are taking longer to achieve competence as a result.

It is always interesting to compare experiences with other professions. The law is not generally a life-and-death issue to the same extent as medicine, so there are differences. Yet I am reminded of Glanville Williams’s saying (in Learning the Law) that if we learned everything necessary to be a good lawyer before qualifying, nobody would be a solicitor before they were 37. I do not think that medical problems always come in neat defined packages, any more than legal problems do, and I rather want my professionals to be able to cope with the unexpected. I particularly want them to identify when they are outside their experience ad knowledge, and to be able to act appropriately. That means adding to their knowledge, and being prepared to ask for assistance from someone who does.

Reaction from doctors would be interesting.


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