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Regulator clears trust to bring back junior doctors

Published on: 10 May 2023

Up to 10 junior doctor posts will be reinstated at a small district general hospital after regulators agreed it had improved its learning environment.

In 2021, Health Education England removed 10 doctors from Weston Hospital over concerns they were being left without adequate supervision on understaffed wards. 

The unusual move prompted University Hospitals Bristol and Weston Foundation Trust to launch a “quality improvement approach” to improve its learner and clinical supervision environment.

Two years on, NHS England – into which HEE has since merged – announced it had decided Weston had made enough improvement to merit the return of the 10 training posts in August.

The regulator said the trust had made significant improvements that included:

  • Better staff engagement with the trust leadership at all levels;
  • Better clinical supervision, particularly around shift handovers and senior oversight of clinical decisions; and
  • Better learner experience in new training settings in rheumatology and intensive care medicine.

The trust has also improved its organisational culture and created a learning environment that “promotes multi-professional learning opportunities”, NHSE said.

Stuart Walker, chief medical officer and deputy chief executive of UHBW, said the findings were “further proof of our commitment to creating a supportive environment and culture for everyone”.

The hospital has struggled with staff shortages for several years and – following its merger with UHBW in 2021 – it is set to become an elective centre with limited emergency care provision. 

The regulator will carry out follow-up reviews into the hospital’s learning environment later this year.

Geoff Smith, South West postgraduate dean at NHSE, said: “There remains work to be continued with at the trust but we are confident in their plans and will work closely with local managers and the General Medical Council to ensure all trainees are fully supported in their return and beyond.”