To help drive recruitment, a new pilot initiative, which is being run within the Specialist Services and Surgery Care Group at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust, is looking to provide support for Specialist Doctors, currently employed at RCHT, to become consultants though their CESR School.
“Recruiting to consultants, certainly in medicine, has been difficult for many years,” explains Roz Davies, Care Group Manager for Specialist Services & Surgery at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust. “Part of the reason for this is that Cornwall is a long way from the rest of the world, which can make it difficult to recruit. Over the years, RCHT has had great initiatives and success in ‘growing our own’ internal workforce across other disciplines, however, one area where we were still struggling was with medical workforce.”
Obtaining a permanent medical consultant role within the NHS requires an individual to hold a Specialist Registration in their specialist field. There are two methods to achieve this: either through completion of a formal Health Education England accredited training course, or through the provision of a portfolio of evidence to the GMC that demonstrates activities undertaken have fulfilled all the requirements of the current approved training syllabus.
“We started to look at the ways we could remove some of the potential barriers for our own workforce gaining their Specialist Registration to allow them to become consultants, and that’s where this idea comes in,” Roz adds.
The portfolio method, when complete, will lead to a Certificate of Specialist Registration (CESR) and subsequent entry on the GMC Specialist register. It’s an application method that is open to any Doctor holding a GMC Registration, who has not followed the training route to Specialist registration.
“Currently, the pilot scheme is only available in the Specialist Services and Surgery Care Group,” explains Roz. “It’s from here that we’ve recruited six members of staff: four middle grade and two consultant-level doctors. The two at consultant level doctors will probably take about a year to two years to complete their certificate, whereas the ones at the more middle grade level will take about four years. This is around the equivalent to what you might expect if you went to medical school to become a registrar. However, the benefit of our pilot training is that the individuals join the register with an element of practical learning and experience.”
Roz continues: “I think it’s fair to say we’re still finding our feet, but so far, it’s going really well. We already have the paperwork in place to carry out assessments, based on pre-existing forms from the NHS Leadership Academy, put together by our Head of Medical Staffing, Karl Westgarth. The forms are easy to use and allow individuals currently enrolled in the pilot to have a clear understanding of what they’ve done so far, where they need to go and what milestones they need to achieve. We can relate to and better support the individuals enrolled in the pilot, using the assessments alongside regular one-to-one meetings. From this, we’ll be able to track their progress and keep a record of any feedback we receive along the way.”
Each individual also has a clinical supervisor within their specialty as well as a monthly 1:1 mentor session with our Clinical Director for our CESR School, Dr Ray Sinclair, Consultant Anesthetist.
“The pilot is likely to take six months to a year to evolve, but all the work that’s being put in currently is vital in terms of understanding how we can develop the pilot into a workable process that is used across RCHT,” explains Karl. “The end goal is to have a system in place that allows our hospitals to develop our own consultants, enabling them to make that all important next career step here in Cornwall. The amount of interest and excitement this pilot has generated so far has been amazing. I think it’s fair to say it completely took us a back and I feel sure it will be a great asset in attracting new doctors to join our team at Royal Cornwall Hospitals.”