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Alternatives to ‘NCHD’ title to be reviewed

The issue of the title ‘NCHD’, which stands for ‘Non-Consultant Hospital Doctor’, was raised at the November meeting of the RCSI Committee for Surgical Affairs, minutes of which have been seen by the Medical Independent (MI).

The November meeting noted that the Irish Surgical Training Group had raised issues involving  “the term used to describe junior doctors, with most trainees favouring an alternative to ‘NCHD’.

“Trainees would like this discussed and it was agreed that this could be raised by a surgical trainee representative on the Forum of [Irish] Postgraduate [Medical] Training Bodies… which would be the most appropriate platform for such a discussion.”

A spokesperson for the RCSI told MI that it will review the proposals in conjunction with the Forum.

“The Forum will consult with the trainee representative bodies on this matter. However, there are many stakeholders involved in such issues, such as the HSE as the employer, and IMO as the union representing most NCHDs.”

A spokesperson for the IMO told MI that the union “would of course have to be in agreement with any name change — which could only occur after negotiation”.

The title ‘NCHD’ is well known in medical circles, but possibly less well understood among the general public and patients, while the title ‘junior doctor’ is not popular with many in the profession.

The issue of the ‘NCHD’ title has previously been raised in other forums. In September 2016, the National Lead NCHD Update document written by Dr Catherine Diskin noted that a discussion titled ‘Are we happy with the title NCHD?’ would be a topic to be featured in an upcoming NCHD newsletter to be distributed to NCHDs across Ireland.

In the previous issue of MI, columnist Dr Christine O’Malley mentioned that the ‘NCHD’ title came up in a conversation she had at the recent IMO AGM in Killarney, Co Kerry.

“Meanwhile, Stephen Donnelly [FF health spokesperson] talked with Asam [surgeon and health realist] and me about medical employment and the peculiarity of labelling graduates in a negative manner as ‘non-consultant’,” she wrote. “It’s interesting to get such a different perspective.”

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