Report on the BMA Multi-Specialty Working Group meeting
19th June 2020
Alison Kinghorn (BMA Rep)
So COVID-19 may have stopped us meeting in person but the work of the BMA in protecting its members has been going full steam ahead during this trying time. The Multi-Specialty Working Group met online this week to update each other on what the BMA had been working on and whether there were any areas of challenge/best practice in how our specialties had been responding to the crisis.
Contracts and rotas are always a key topic. There have of course been some extraordinary measures taken in the last few months which were necessary to cope with an emergency situation. However, the BMA is keen to ensure that these are not allowed to continue post-pandemic and become accepted as the new normal. As part of this, the BMA is very clear that all rotas from the August changeover must be in line with all the usual contractual obligations and absolutely must adhere to the EWTD 48 hour limit. The BMA has already put out a statement regarding payment for untaken leave during the pandemic and the details of this (e.g. how the payment is calculated) has been clarified in some nations but negotiations are ongoing in others.
The challenges for shielded trainees were raised by a number of specialties, including access to exams (and therefore progression). This, along with other considerations of the effect of COVID on equality in training, is being actively investigated within another BMA sub-committee and the specialty specific concerns were taken on board. Within orthopaedics, we know there’s ongoing work at the Royal Colleges to work out ways to get the exams back underway in as safe a way possible, both for trainees and patients. This is of course a massive source of stress and anxiety to a lot of trainees and BOTA will continue to keep you up to date as we hear more (keep an eye on our social media accounts for up to the minute news). Our colleagues at ASiT also raised the importance of again not allowing emergency measures to morph into a longer-term dilution of exam excellence and BOTA and ASiT will continue to work closely on this to preserve the interests of trainees in this matter.
There has already been a lot said about the problems with recruitment this year and it was a keen subject for discussion at the meeting. Despite hard work from every specialty organisation and the BMA to make it as fair in the circumstances as possible, the process was very far from perfect and has caused a lot of understandable anger and upset for those it affected. BOTA has already been working hard to represent these views to the relevant authorities and to ensure a) no trainee is disadvantaged in subsequent years due to missing out this year and b) next year is run in a better fashion.
The final big topic for discussion was the new ARCP outcomes that record a no-fault training deficit due to COVID-19. These are the Outcomes 10.1 and 10.2 which some of you may be coming across. Both BMA and BOTA think these are a useful tool if used appropriately but feel very strongly that these must be truly “no-fault” i.e. that they should represent no detriment to trainees in future when applying for transfers/fellowships etc. There are several details about these outcomes still to be ironed out and both the BMA and BOTA are working with the appropriate bodies on this.
There’s much more information for trainees on how BOTA is working on these key issues (and many others) available on our website and via our social media channels but please do get in touch ([email protected]) if you have any concerns/queries/comments.