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Weston General Hospital to Readmit Doctors in Training

Postgraduate doctors in training will return to Weston General Hospital for rotations from August 2023, following a positive review by NHS England and the General Medical Council (GMC).

In 2021, a temporary removal was executed of 10 junior doctors, all on a general medicine rota, after inspectors said working conditions for trainees were "unacceptable." During a routine inspection, Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors had rated the hospital as 'inadequate', reporting that staff at Weston General Hospital felt senior managers were not "visible, supportive or approachable".

Health Education England (HEE) stressed that frequently, junior staff "lacked support", and were frequently left "without adequate senior supervision and support on understaffed wards ".

Learner Experience Improved

By October 2022, there had been some improvement, with the regulator bestowing upon it an overall rating of 'requires improvement'.

A spokesperson for NHS England explained that, since 2021, a "quality improvement approach" had been in place to support the hospital in improving both the "learner and clinical supervision" environment.

Clinical education leaders concluded after their most recent visit in March 2023 that the Trust had:

  • Significantly improved staff engagement with the Trust leadership at all levels
  • Ensured significant improvements had been made in clinical supervision - particularly around shift handovers and senior oversight of clinical decisions
  • Seen improvement in induction of new starters and their welfare
  • Developed a strong learner experience in new training settings in rheumatology and intensive care medicine, as well as continued improvements in other specialties

Weston General Hospital had "significantly improved" the experience and education of doctors in training, reassured Dr Geoff Smith, South West postgraduate dean at NHS England.

The Trust had also seen a marked improvement in the learning environment and culture, which included:

Steps in the Right Direction

The progress achieved had made it possible for doctors in training to return to the hospital later this year.

Professor Colin Melville, medical director and director of education and standards at the GMC, said the Trust had made "positive strides" in addressing serious concerns about supervision of doctors in training and support for them on understaffed wards. 

Dr Smith expressed that despite there still being work to be continued with at the Trust, he was "confident" in its plans to ensure all trainees were "fully supported in their return and beyond".

Subsequent reviews were planned to take place later in 2023, stressed an NHS England spokesperson, once doctors in training had returned to the hospital site.