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Patients more likely to die during 'black Wednesday'

There is expected to be a higher than average number of deaths among hospital patients today as thousands of junior doctors start their new jobs, it has emerged.

The first Wednesday in August, when newly-qualified doctors arrive on hospital wards, has been dubbed "black Wednesday" due to links to a rise in mortality rates.

Research suggests that deaths rise by around 6%, as the impact of the influx of new trainees is compounded by more experienced junior medics moving departments.

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Patients get 'best possible care' on black Wednesday

Patients "receive the best possible care, whatever day of the year it is," a British Medical Council (BMA) chair said.

Dr Andrew Collier, co-chair of the BMA's Junior Doctors Committee, made the comment as thousands of newly-qualified medics start in hospitals today, dubbed "black Wednesday" because of links to an increase in patient deaths.

The introduction of a shadowing scheme in recent years, which was long fought for by the BMA, means new doctors are better prepared on their first day by being familiar with a hospital's systems, including everything from ordering tests, to filling in paper work.

This ensures patients continue to receive the best possible care, whatever day of the year it is, and leaves new doctors feeling more confident and less anxious.

New doctors still have to face the reality of excessive hours and workloads, however, which can leave them exhausted and potentially compromise patient care, and despite recent improvements in patient safety brought about by shadowing, trusts still need to do more.

– Dr Andrew Collier

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