BMA warns future doctors face training chaos

The rush to reform medical training has created chaos, the leader of the U.K.'s junior doctors will say today (Saturday 8 May). At the BMA's annual junior doctors' conference in London, Mr Simon Eccles will pledge support for medical students who decide to boycott new training programmes because they have inadequate information.

Under the government's 'Modernising Medical Careers' plans, from August 2005 the first two years of junior doctors' training are to be replaced with a 'foundation programme'. However, there is currently very little information about the content of the second year of the programmes, or how doctors' skills will be assessed.

Medical students have to apply for their first jobs as junior doctors the year before they graduate, and in some areas the process is already underway. In a speech to the BMA's annual Junior Doctors Conference, Mr Simon Eccles will say that changes are needed, but the speed at which they are being pushed through means the potential benefits will be lost:

"We have been calling for changes to post-graduate medical education for years and in many ways Modernising Medical Careers is good news. Sadly, however, there are problems with the implementation of the reforms. Medical students are being expected to apply for their first jobs without knowing what they'll be learning, whether or not their experience will count towards their future training, what they will be paid, or where they will be based. The BMA will support anyone who wishes to boycott an undefined part of their foundation programme."

He will also reiterate BMA concerns about plans to allow some doctors to qualify as consultants without undergoing advanced specialist training.

"The NHS has always trained consultants to a level where they can deal with the full range of emergencies in their specialty. Someone who hasn't been trained to the point where they can work without supervision is not a consultant."

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