Hospitals play down junior doctor fears

Health bosses last night insisted there was no major disruption to services at the region's hospitals, despite hundreds of junior doctors starting new jobs.

Health bosses last night insisted there was no major disruption to services at the region's hospitals, despite hundreds of junior doctors starting new jobs.

Predictions of cancelled operations and general chaos had accompanied the first day for 30,000 new doctors across England - double the normal figure at this time of year.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said a shake-up of recruitment procedures, which has ended staggered start days for hospitals, had played havoc with forward-planning.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, which had about 180 new juniors, said its elective surgery programme continued yesterday, although some non-emergency operations had been rescheduled in advance.

Spokesman Hayley Gerrard said: “We have rescheduled operations the same as we would do at Christmas and the New Year.

“Contingency plans have been put in place and the only reason any operation may have been cancelled is that an emergency comes in, which takes precedence.”

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The N&N would normally expect to see about 120 junior doctors starting new posts at this time of year, but the increase has been caused because the other intake date in February has been cancelled. The hospital's new recruits include home-grown graduates from the medical school at UEA.

The changes under the Modernising Medical Careers programme are designed to speed up the time it takes to become a consultant and follows reforms in junior doctor training and the introduction of the controversial online application service.

At the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in King's Lynn, the decision was taken not to book in non-emergency operations for the majority of this week to allow time for the 122 starters to bed in.

Spokesman Richard Humphries said: “We haven't had any major problems, mainly because we have known for ages that this was coming along and we've been planning accordingly. Emergency operations and the A&E department have been functioning as normal.”

The arrival of hundreds of new doctors does not signify extra medical posts at the region's hospitals, but highlights the transient nature of juniors, who move to new departments or hospitals every few months.

A spokesman for the James Paget University Hospital, in Gorleston, which welcomed 79 new junior doctors and saw about another 30 change departments, said: “We have made some adjustments to clinical activity, but no operations have been cancelled.”

The hospital had arranged for additional medical and senior nurse cover to ensure its departments ran smoothly.

The West Suffolk Hospital, in Bury St Edmunds, had 90 new junior posts and director of human resources and communications Jan Bloomfield said: “A new rotation of junior doctors starts in August every year for which the trust has plans to ensure the smooth running of patient services.”

Because of confusion surrounding the new recruitment process, there has been a last-minute rush to appoint doctors, although the Department of Health says more than 90pc of posts have now been filled.

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