During the period of supervision, the doctor should not be on night time or on call duties. They may however wish to perform these duties with appropriate supervision.
Where possible the experiences should optimise the chances for doctor to regain surgical skills under supervision and should start off with simpler procedures to build confidence.
Depending on the level of the doctor, a ‘buddy’ system may be appropriate, i.e. pairing the doctor with either a more senior colleague or Consultant during the period of supervision.
During the period of supervision, the doctor should undertake the appropriate Workplace-Based Assessments (WPBAs) to ensure formal feedback and assessment of progress.
A formal review of progress should take place after completion of the period of supervision where the doctor should present evidence (through WPBAs and previously agreed assessments and reflection) of readiness to return to usual clinical duties. If this is not felt to be the case, an extension to the period of supervision should be discussed and arranged.
It is important that even after a doctor has returned to normal clinical duties ongoing support is still available, e.g. through formal/informal mentorship.
If funding the supernumerary period is problematic, one option would be to encourage the doctor (if returning from parental leave) to use their Keeping in Touch (KIT) days or Shared Parental Leave in Touch (SPLIT) days in the weeks preceding their return date to enable a period of supervision.
Several programmes providing support for doctors returning to work are currently being developed. In particular, is the work being carried out by Health Education England (HEE) under the title ‘SuppoRTT’ (see Box 3 in Planning a return to work and Box 1 below).
Part of this ongoing work involves the development of several courses aimed at training Educational Supervisors and Directors of Medical Education.
Box 1. Health Education England (HEE) – Supported Return to Training (SuppoRTT) Investment Plan1
The 2016 Acas Junior doctors’ contract agreement committed Health Education England to develop robust initiatives to ‘remove as far as possible the disadvantage of those who take time out’.
HEE estimates that around 5,000 doctors in England return to work each year and more work is on going to detail the type of leave and length away from clinical practice.
Current financial proposals are to establish a national educational support fund of £6,000,000 to be distributed to local HEE offices depending on local numbers of Trainees.
Some additional individual funding to support a Trainee’s return to work may become available and individuals will need to contact their local HEE offices for details regarding eligibility and application for this.
Full details of the Investment Plan for 2017/2018 as well as recurrent years is available in the document ‘Health Education England – Supported Return to Training, Developing people for health and healthcare’.