Junior doctors in UK hospitals will now need to spend a minimum of four working days shadowing the job that they will be taking up from this summer, it has been announced.
The announcement comes from NHS medical director, professor Sir Bruce Keogh, and is intended to not only benefit the junior doctor but also increase safety for patients.
It comes after a report found that people admitted to English hospitals in an emergency on the first Wednesday in August have, on average, a six percent higher mortality rate than people admitted on the previous Wednesday.
Sir Bruce said: “Patient safety and providing a high quality service is at the heart of a modern NHS.
“This shadowing period could potentially save lives, and will equip new junior doctors with the local knowledge and skills needed to provide safe, high quality patient care, from their first day as a doctor.”
Three separate pilots have been carried out over the course of the last three years, beginning in July 2010, at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge/University of East Anglia, and Cardiff Medical School.
This ward-based shadowing involved informal teaching sessions from current junior doctors, formal teaching sessions and social events in order to develop peer networks amongst other things.
Results from the Bristol leg showed that mistakes made by new doctors in their first four months dropped by 52 per cent after a week of shadowing and targeted teaching.
Dr Rebecca Aspinall, consultant anaesthetist and programme director for doctors training at UH Bristol, said: “Patient safety is at the heart of medical education.
“We recognised that our outgoing first year doctors could educate the new intake of junior doctors if their employment overlapped by a few days.
“The outgoing doctors’ collective memory and experience was used to design the teaching for incoming junior doctors.”
Sir Bruce Keogh has already written to final year medical students, medical school deans, postgraduate deans, SHA chief executives and NHS Trust chief executives to explain that the scheme will be introduced nationally for the first time this year.