Dr Chris Carey, chair of the Royal College of Anaesthetists’ training committee, has criticised some private providers that he said made it “really very difficult” to access training during the Covid-19 pandemic, HSJ has reported.

Carey specifically targeted Spire Healthcare accusing the private healthcare provider of being “extremely uncooperative” regarding the training of young clinicians.

Since September, the NHS has arranged for medical trainees to undertake some of their training at independent hospitals to keep up training levels during the pandemic, especially for elective specialty services.

Carey said: “Some private hospitals have been really helpful and facilitative; others have been really very difficult and have made it extremely hard to allow training opportunities… Spire, in particular, have been extremely uncooperative with regards to supporting anaesthetic and surgical training in their hospital network. I’m very disappointed with the response they have shown.”

Carey added that the process was “so difficult and so bureaucratic” as to make it almost impossible.

Following Carey’s outburst, the Royal College of Anaesthetists’ issued a statement saying: “While the college understands provision for anaesthetists in training has been made within the independent sector, we are asking for our members to have greater access to training within those settings.

“We recognise that while new processes and procedures have needed to be implemented, these are new for hospitals and trainees alike.”

Spire Healthcare responded in a statement saying: “In 2020, we welcomed up to 900 doctors in training to our hospitals across the country. We were one of the first independent sector providers to enable doctors in training to practise in our hospitals, in line with guidance from the Care Quality Commission and Health Education England. So, we are surprised and disappointed by these criticisms.”

David Hare, chief executive of the Independent Health Providers Network added: “Since the announcement was made last September to further increase training opportunities in the independent hospital sector, several thousand junior doctors have been given training opportunities in independent hospitals and we fully expect that number to grow as the programme rolls out.

“In recognition of the complexities of the issue and the fact that it is still early days, we are continuing to engage with colleagues across the NHS to further reduce bureaucracy and improve access to training in the independent sector.”

Date published: March 3, 2021

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