Our junior doctors work incredibly hard caring for patients around the clock. We introduced exception reporting in 2016 and it has been a major step forward in ensuring safe working. The British Medical Association, NHS Employers and the Department reviewed the effectiveness of exception reporting as part of the junior doctor’s contract agreement, which we announced last week. Revisions will be made to exception reporting subject to the endorsement of the BMA.
Is the Minister aware that research by the Hospital Consultants & Specialists Association shows that, despite thousands of exception reports from junior doctors in unsafe hospital trusts, no changes to shift patterns were made at all. The chief executive of NHS Employers has said that, undoubtedly, there are circumstances where trusts would like to make changes, but because they do not have sufficient staff in place they are unable to do so. What can the Minister do to ensure that, in future, these changes are actually implemented?
The hon. Gentleman is right: every exception report has to be addressed. Changing the rota is one possible outcome. He will recognise that there are other possible outcomes as well: the doctor may agree to work extra hours and be given extra time off; timing of the ward rounds in clinics may be adjusted, so that educational opportunities can be taken: and timing of the ward rounds can be adjusted so that support from other senior staff can be there as well. There are many ways around this.