• Mental health trusts have been asked to transfer all foundation year one doctors to acute trusts amid worsening covid-19 pressures
  • Devon Partnership FT’s chair said yesterday its junior doctors are being moved to “help the medical effort”
  • Several senior sources say London mental health trusts have pushed back against the plans, floated this week

Mental health trusts across England are transferring foundation year one doctors to acute trusts to help tackle the covid-19 crisis, HSJ can reveal.

Several senior NHS directors have confirmed the transfers were set to go ahead in specific regions.

One source said the strategy had recently been agreed between Health Education England and local trusts in the East of England.

Devon Partnership Foundation Trust also appears to have already taken the step. A tweet sent yesterday by Peter Aitken, director at Devon Partnership FT, said: “As we say au reviour to our junior doctors in psychiatry moving to help the medical effort against #Covid19 we do so knowing they take essential #mentalhealth skills to the front line.”

Several senior sources also told HSJ all mental health trusts in London, the region worst affected by covid-19, had been asked by HEE this week to take the same steps.

However, HSJ understands the decision is being reviewed after push back from providers, due to concerns over the impact on mental health services. 

One senior director working in the capital said: “This is a nightmare… We are pushing back but it seems the decision has been made.” Another source suggested the London HEE deanery was against the idea. 

The news comes after HSJ revealed Northwick Park Hospital had declared a critical incident after running out of critical care capacity. The trust has since stepped down the incident. 

In a comment to HSJ Dr Aitken said: “Locally we have moved our foundation doctors over. We will offer our Core Trainees too. We’ve sufficient consultant and speciality doctors to cover our mental health units.”

HEE was approached for comment. 

Professor Wendy Reid executive director of education and quality and national medical director for Health Education England said: ”Health Education England fully recognises the vital that role mental health services play in supporting patients and no psychiatry trainees have been asked to move.

”We can confirm that some foundation trainees are being asked to move to acute trusts at the request of the local healthcare system. This is to meet local patient need and is being done after agreement with the postgraduate dean.

”We are monitoring trainee movement and making sure that all doctors in training get adequate induction and supervision.

”These are very challenging times for the NHS and Health Education England is doing all it can to support the fight against COVID 19.”

This story was updated at on 23 March after HSJ recieved a comment from HEE.