ALMOST 200 young doctors started their training at the Royal Blackburn and Burnley General hospitals yesterday, beginning a crucial shadowing period which ‘could potentially save lives’.

The first day of a doctor’s hospital training in the NHS has been dubbed ‘black Wednesday’, after researchers found that ‘death rates’ increase slightly as new intakes of junior medics arrive on the wards.

But Linda Whitfield, head of education at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said every effort will be made to give the trainees the right support.

She added: “Life as a junior doctor can be a steep learning curve, but we offer the right support to ensure they learn from their peers and that patient safety is not compromised in any way.

“Our new doctors receive ongoing support from senior staff during their time here to help them in their first jobs so we can pre-empt any problems early on and better nurture their skills.”

Mortality statistics obtained by the Lancashire Telegraph appear to back this up, as the number of deaths compared to the expected number actually decreased in August last year, compared to the previous three months.

Known as FY1s (Foundation Year Ones), the latest intake of 69 junior doctors are joined by 117 speciality trainee doctors as they begin on-the-job training in their chosen areas.

They stay with the trust for two years and begin by shadowing the doctors, as well as undergoing training for prescribing, blood transfusion and resuscitation competency.

Dr Ian Stanley, executive medical director, said: “This shadowing period equips junior doctors with the local knowledge and skills needed to provide safe, high quality patient care, from their first day as a doctor."