Thursday, 19 July 2007

A health warning

Don't be ill on the 1st August, and preferably not in August as a whole.

The first week of August is always a chaotic time in hospitals, as newly qualified doctors start their first jobs; there is obviously a learning curve- what number do I dial in an emergency, where's the cardiac arrest trolley, how does the bleep system work, where's the accident department, how do I get to the wards at night when doors are locked, and so on.

This year, thanks to the fiasco of MTAS and MMC the chaos is going to be bigger and better than ever. Virtually every junior doctor in the country is going to be starting a new job. In many cases they are only finding out now (or haven't yet found out) where they will be working. Many haven't fixed accommodation, and thousands are awaiting their occupational health and CRB checks, without which they can't start. Many are going to jobs that they don't actually want to do, or are working in hospitals that they have never visited.

The consultants for whom they will be working have almost certainly not met their new juniors and have no way of knowing what they can and can't do. In many parts of the country (and the East of England seems to be the worst here) not all the jobs have been filled.

Hospitals have been asked to draw up contingency plans. In some cases consultants have been asked to cancel holidays. But no one really knows what will happen.

Will it be another Millennium bug false alarm? I wouldn't bet on it. But I'm going to be on holiday!

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