These are clearly not ideal training conditions. They arise because of the relentless drive to reduce waiting lists and increase patient throughput. Each year hospitals are expected to take on three per cent more work with the same resources and this can only be achieved by having all the medical staff, senior and junior, working flat out.
Of course it would be much more satisfactory to have trainee and consultant in the same operating theatre but that would inevitably mean that waiting lists would soar and hospitals would go bankrupt. The BMA has never supported the internal market, this is one of its worrying effects. The "absent" consultant is not pursuing private practice as John Spiers, chairman of the Patients' Association alleges, but in the adjacent operating theatre working through another list.
J N JOHNSON
Central Consultants and
British Medical Association