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Clinical training experience in district general hospitals


AIMS To estimate the nature and quantity of clinical experience available for trainees in paediatrics or general practice in acute general hospitals of differing sizes in the UK. To discuss implications for training and service configuration taking account of current Royal College recommendations (a minimum of 1800 acute contacts each year and ideally covering a population of 450 000 to 500 000 people).

METHODS Observed frequencies of diagnoses in Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield were compared with those in five other hospitals in Yorkshire and four in the South of England, and with expected frequencies from a review of selected marker conditions using national routine and epidemiological data. Based on the Pinderfields data, we modelled expected frequencies of a wider range of diagnoses for different sized hospitals.

RESULTS Small units (1800 or less acute referrals a year) provide adequate exposure to common conditions such as gastroenteritis (157 per annum) and asthma (171 per annum) but encounter serious or unusual disease rarely. When modelled for units serving larger populations, numbers of such disorders remain small. For example, about 0.5% of admissions require intensive care to the level of ventilatory support. Medium size units offer a wide range of experience but differ little from those serving the population of 500 000 proposed as being optimal for training. This standard is not justified by the evidence in this review. Closing or amalgamating units on the scale necessary to achieve this ideal would be impractical as only five hospitals in England have a paediatric workload equivalent to this population; it would also raise issues of access and equity.

  • clinical training
  • general hospital
  • general practice

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