Anna Willcock and Harriet Julian offer some practical advice to help make the August changeover day as smooth and as safe as possible
An organisation that sees an estimated 50 000 UK doctors change job or start work on the same day each year is highly likely to experience some hiccups in this process. When the hiccups are minor inconveniences, such as an hour long queue for photocopying passports, they seem harmless enough. However, these are exactly the sort of practicalities that stop doctors getting to the wards and into work in a timely and prepared fashion, which can result in less cover for patients, poor handover, and a measurable drop in the quality of care—a 6% increase in hospital mortality rates has been reported for the first week in August.
Some elements of the 1 August changeover are immovable within the current system, but there is plenty that a junior doctor can do to smooth the transition and, hopefully, to positively influence patient care. Preparation is the key to a successful changeover, and junior doctors need to plan on three fronts: personal, administrative, and clinical.