Article Text

Will our junior doctors be ready for the next major incident? A questionnaire audit on major incident awareness across three NHS Trusts in Wales
  1. Joseph M Hobson1,2
  1. 1Department of Emergency, The Royal Gwent Hospital, Newport, UK
  2. 2The Orchard, Wrexham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Joseph M Hobson; hobsonjm{at}


Aim The aim was to assess junior doctors' understanding of their role in the Major Incident Contingency Plan at their hospital, and to evaluate the effectiveness of a teaching intervention on increasing awareness.

Background In this audit, ‘junior doctor’ refers to the first 2 years of work after qualifying from medical school. Once a major incident is confirmed, junior doctors should go to their ward, contact the senior nurse in charge and compile a list of the patients who could safely be discharged from the hospital. This action is standard across NHS Trusts in Wales.

Method A questionnaire was given to 89 junior doctors across three NHS Trusts in Wales. It involved general aspects of a major incident, as well as ascertaining perceptions of their role as junior doctors. They then received formal teaching by Emergency Planning Faculty. Following this, a repeat questionnaire was completed.

Results 91% felt they did not know what would be expected of them during a major incident; 47% would initially go to the Emergency Department; 27% were unclear where to go; 31% were unaware who to contact on hearing of a major incident; and 16% would telephone switchboard. Junior doctors believe their primary role would be triage (16%); clerking in the emergency department (36%); clerking in Medical Assessment Unit/Surgical Assessment Unit (17%); and practical work (15%). Only 3% would first go to their ward; 12% believe their primary role would involve patients on the ward; and only 1% would list patients for discharge. 90% of completed questionnaires included a request for teaching. Following teaching, 97% knew who to call, where to go and what to do during a major incident.

Conclusion Junior doctors' awareness of major incidents within Wales was near absent prior to teaching. This teaching is vital to help ensure smooth running of the hospital on the day.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non commercial and is otherwise in compliance with the license. See: and

View Full Text

Statistics from

Supplementary materials


  • To cite: Hobson JM. Will our junior doctors be ready for the next major incident? A questionnaire audit on major incident awareness across three NHS Trusts in Wales. BMJ Open 2011;1:e000061. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000061

  • Competing interests None.

  • Contributors JMH is the sole author of the contribution.

  • Provenance peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement No additional data available.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.