Homerton Hospital. Photograph: Hackney Council

Junior doctors at Homerton Hospital could be “under-reporting” how often they work extra hours or skip breaks for fear of “negative consequences” from their supervisors, putting patients’ safety at risk.

Dr David Wilson, guardian of safe working hours at Homerton Hospital, raised concerns about over-work by junior doctors at a meeting of the hospital’s board of directors today.

He said his report for the meeting, which recorded more than 200 “exception reports” by junior doctors, was probably the result of “under-reporting”, and that the real figure was higher.

“Exception reports” are made by doctors when they work extra hours, skip breaks, miss training, or don’t have enough support, according to the British Medical Association.

In his report, Dr Wilson wrote: “The pattern of exception reports received suggests under-reporting by doctors more senior than FY1 [foundation doctors, the most junior level].

“There are concerns that the current attitude to reports from some supervising consultants does not encourage an open exception-reporting culture within the Trust.

“There is a need for ongoing work to address this.”

He added that the issue was raised at a recent Junior Doctors’ Forum (JDF) event.

Dr Wilson wrote: “It was of significant concern that at the most recent JDF a number of trainees voiced reluctance to exceptions report[ing] fearing potential negative consequences from their supervising consultants.

“It is likely that these fears are contributing to under-reporting by more senior trainees and exposing a possible risk that there are unidentified areas within the Trust where trainees may be overworking and potentially putting their own safety and safety of patients at risk.”

Dr Wilson said doctors have been emailed “to reassure [them] that negative consequences from exception reporting should never occur”, and that senior trainees told him they have had nothing to report.

But he added: “Further action is needed to further develop an open exception reporting culture within the trust.”

Vanni Treves, board member and chair of Homerton Hospital’s risk committee, said at the meeting: “I think it’s absolutely unacceptable that clinicians should cut across the junior doctors.

“We can’t have a situation where clinicians discourage junior doctors from saying what they want to say.”

Dr Mike Gill, the hospital’s interim medical director, said steps were being taken to make sure junior doctors feel safe to report over-work.

Support us


The coronavirus outbreak has meant that the Hackney Citizen has been unable to print a monthly newspaper for the last three months.

The need for quality news and reliable reporting is crucial - however, this is an increasingly challenging time for local journalism.

Our main source of income, print advertising revenue, fell suddenly - and so we are asking you, the readers, for your help.A one-off donation from anyone who can afford it will help our small team get our newspaper back in print and keep the website and social media feeds running through this unprecedented crisis.

Find out how you can donate.

Thanks in advance for your support, and stay safe.