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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Replacing senior staff will put babies and infants at risk, doctors and patient groups warn.

Babies 'will be put at risk' as experienced doctors are replaced by trainees - Independent on Sunday


"A government plan to cut senior staff in paediatric wards and neonatal units and replace them with trainee doctors will put infants at risk, doctors and patient groups have warned.

Under the Government's controversial Modernising Medical Careers (MMC) programme, senior staff on some paediatric wards will be replaced by trainee doctors from August.

The move is part of a government plan to reform training for NHS doctors. Patricia Hewitt, the Secretary of State for Health, said recently that this was needed "not just for junior doctors themselves, the workhorses of the NHS working quite outrageously long hours, but also for the sake of patients".

Busy paediatric wards have up to seven specialist paediatric senior house officers (SHOs) - doctors with up to four years' experience. Most could be replaced under MMC.

In future, trainee doctors with one or two years' experience will spend four months in paediatrics before moving on to another specialism, and would not necessarily have any interest in that area of medicine.

The move has alarming implications for the 45,000 babies born prematurely each year. Babies born at 23 weeks have a 17 per cent chance of survival and require expert medical support, while half of all babies born before 30 weeks suffer from apnea, which causes them to stop breathing."