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Training at NHS organisations in Cumbria rated top by students and trainee doctors

Holly Jackson

Teaching given to trainee doctors and medical students in two NHS trusts in Cumbria has been praised in the latest inspection by education providers.

The Northern Foundation School and Newcastle University Medical School visited North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust (NCUH) and Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) in January on an annual visit to review the quality of education given to trainee doctors and medical students at the trusts. They looked at areas such as how well supported medical learners are and if training meets the General Medical Council’s standards.

The team met with foundation trainees from The Northern Foundation School who have been undertaking their medical training in Cumbria and reviewed feedback from undergraduates. Learners have been impressed by the level of training, the opportunities available to them and innovative workforce models used across the trusts.

Feedback from one undergraduate at Newcastle Medical School included: “If you want to do well in your medical final exams come to Carlisle.” And another was impressed by the dedication of the medical education teams, describing them as “truly inspiring”. The pass rate for final year medical students on placement in Cumbria is extremely high and annually exceeds the expected rate of 95%.

Holly Jackson, foundation doctor at the Cumberland Infirmary, explains why she has been so impressed by her training in Cumbria: “After studying for five years at Birmingham, I wanted to complete my F1 and F2 in a smaller hospital, where I was hoping I’d get more opportunities to challenge myself and to develop as a doctor. Carlisle didn’t disappoint, and in the two years I have been here, I have never looked back.

“From the outset I have been supported by great seniors, who have given me the space to develop. Offering support and encouragement when needed but also challenging me to step outside my comfort zone and giving me opportunities to expand my skills. I have no doubt that I have progressed further and faster because I have been part of a smaller dedicated team.

“The wider hospital staff are amazing to work with, with people continually going above and beyond what they need to do, not because they have to but because they genuinely care. Staff operate as teams and I have never felt alone or unsupported, something that is important when you are making potentially life and death decisions. When you step through the door at Carlisle you can guarantee you’ll be met with more than one smile and good morning from someone before getting to your own ward!

“It’s not just about the staff, one thing that took me by surprise was the attitude of patients. Whilst like any hospital we have some challenges, the majority of patients here are friendly, truly grateful for the support we give and a pleasure to work with. I have worked with patients and families that I will never forget and whose kind words spurred me on through some of the tough days.

“From when I stepped through the door as an F1 in Carlisle I felt welcome and one of the team. It is a Trust that I’d really like to stay and specialise in, and a place that as a young doctor I have truly felt valued and at home.”

The inspection team also met with the educational leaders from both Trusts to feedback on their findings, and discuss and agree the next steps of improvement and expansion.

Professor Samuel Dearman, Director of Medical Education for CPFT and NCUH and Deputy Medical Director for CPFT, commented: “We should take the opportunity to recognise and reflect on these achievements, at a time of system challenge, high pace of change and a newly integrated medical education team between the trusts. There is no secret ingredient here; hard work, dedication and expertise pay off. High quality clinical education, including medical education, is a vital step in providing quality care now, but if we get this right for the next generation of doctors as they learn in Cumbria they will come back to work as our doctors of the future.”

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