Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Playing truant

Naughty naughty me. I didn't go to teaching today. Again. I've missed four teaching sessions now and am sure to get a big slap on the wrist in the very near future.

We have teaching for 3 hours every two weeks. It's compulsory and is billed as an important part of the foundation programme. It's all about making us better doctors and helping us achieve our competencies and all of that crap apparently. The glossy and expensive looking 'handbook' they gave us tells me that I am supposed to get "up to three hours per week of protected, bleep-free time set aside for a timetabled learning programme."

Sounds great.

But how exactly is this time protected? The answer, unfortunately, is not at all.

The reason I missed teaching is not that I went home early or did anything fun. The reason I couldn't go was because I had sick patients to look after on the ward and there was nobody else to cover for me. This happens every week. It's actually completely impossible to leave the ward for a whole 3 hours because who will do all of the things I usually do? We are supposed to go to teaching and not bring our bleeps but who the hell are the nurses supposed to call if a patient gets sick? Perhaps the idea is that nobody is allowed to get sick on tuesday afternoons but nobody seems to have told my patients that. It is very inconsiderate of them. Don't they know tuesday afternoons are 'protected time' and they should wait until 5 before having their MI/getting septic/going into heart failure?

We do have an SHO who could in theory cover the ward but in true NHS right-hand-doesn't-know-what-the-left-hand-is-doing style, medical staffing have allocated her to only work a half day every tuesday so she leaves at lunchtime.

We did start off going to teaching but we took our bleeps with us in case there were any problems on the ward. Inevitably there were, and we were bleeped out of teaching repeatedly. This resulted in a lot of tutting and dirty looks from the people teaching us (do they actually think we like being bleeped? Don't they realise we would absolutely love not to have to be at the mercy of our bleeps for 3 hours?) and and in the end we gave up and just went back to the ward. On days when we went to teaching we ended up having to go back to the ward afterwards and working at least 2 hours late in order to get all of the jobs done. There isn't anyone else to do all of the venflons and look up blood results so the work has just piled up by the time we get back.

I'm not sure what is actually supposed to happen. Who is supposed to do the work? Has it even crossed anyone's mind that the work won't go away just because we have teaching?

I'm almost looking forward to the inevitable email asking why I have missed teaching. I intend to tell them exactly why I was unable to go. I genuinely want to ask them in what way they consider this time to be protected. What measures have they actually taken to allow us to attend teaching? Unfortunately I think I know the answer already but I'd be interested to see them try to explain themselves.

This is just yet another example of something that is good in theory but f***ing abysmal in implementation. I would expect nothing less from the NHS.

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