Last autumn I took up my first position in the Yorkshire regional junior doctors’ committee. As a final year gastro reg I hoped to contribute a training lifetime’s worth of experience to improve less than full-time (LTFT) training for all junior doctors in Yorkshire.
Personally, I had a bad experience returning to work after maternity leave. I found that my medical firm was not supportive of my decision to switch to LTFT training. Trying to convey my concerns regarding my timetable to my educational supervisor at the time fell on deaf ears. A recent GMC survey showed there is variability between specialties for trainees working LTFT in how supported they feel (see figure at the end of this blog post). My aim was to contribute to improving the LTFT training experience for all within my region. The question was, how?
Bring on the champion of flexible training
I soon found out my local champion, in Hull, is Helen Cattermole. She is an orthopaedic surgeon and also the director of medical education.
Prior to meeting Helen, I met with Maddy Fogarty Hover. Not only is she our national LTFT forum co-chair but also a paediatric registrar working in Hull. Maddy gave me some pointers and offered to give a talk for a local workshop.
I met with Helen armed with a packed agenda, including an idea to host a workshop for LTFT trainees. We aimed to inform LTFT trainees about what guidelines are out there to help them but also create a networking opportunity and a chance for those who are interested in becoming LTFT to find out more. In principal, Helen agreed to the workshop but also wanted some help updating the Trust LTFT intranet forum and increasing its activity. We set a date for the workshop and agreed the two topics to be covered would be pay and LTFT rostering
Promotion of the workshop across the biggest county in England
The YrJDC were supportive of this workshop as they too wanted to promote LTFT training and support all members in Yorkshire. Dave and Lucy (chair and vice-chair of the YrJDC) suggested I write a regional newsletter to publicise the event to our regional BMA junior doctor list. The local Hull BMA junior doctor rep group came together to promote the event on the ground.
To me this workshop was about promoting the role of the flexible training champion, if only one was available for me when I tried to return to work LTFT. This bad LTFT training experience knocked my confidence at a time when I was already sleep deprived and struggling to juggle work and home life. Having an experienced consultant in the hospital to help would have made an enormous difference to me.
The day of the workshop
The workshop took place in February and presentations included how to contact your flexible training champion, information about what the BMA national LTFT forum does for you, the nitty gritty about pay and rostering and the role of medical staffing. It was also recorded so that the information would be available on the trust intranet. About three-quarters of the attendees were junior doctors. Others included a rota coordinator, our Director of Workforce, the Chief Medical Officer of the Trust and the team from medical staffing. The Trust also launched a new role: LTFT contact in medical staffing, that LTFT trainees can go to with any rota or medical staffing issues. Working LTFT herself, this new medical staffing champion understands the importance of getting it right.
We had fantastic feedback from attendees; Maddy’s presentation on how to calculate LTFT pay and her tips on how to get the most of your LTFT rota schedule was brilliant. Senior management were pleased that we have chosen to work with them and have offered assistance should trainees have further difficulties.
By working together with trusts and flexible training champions we can make the most of our training and resolve issues facing LTFT trainees locally. We have another workshop planned on 14th May on maternity/paternity and shared parental leave. Although it took some hard work to get off the ground, it was worth it and brought together LTFT trainees and medical staffing. Why don’t you speak to your local flexible champion and try to organise a meeting yourself?