Medical reforms driving British doctors out of the health service

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The British Government has been called on to delay it's controversial scheme intended to reform the training of junior doctors, amid fears that more than 10,000 doctors could be left without training posts when Modernising Medical Careers (MMC) is implemented next year.

The proposed plans will abolish the post of senior house officer (SHO), where doctors as a rule stay for two to five years before entering specialty training.

This will mean in effect that all doctors currently in the SHO grade, together with newly qualified doctors emerging from MMC, will have to compete for training posts.

The Government has announced there will be a minimum of 9,500 posts in England, but according to the British Medical Association (BMA) as many as 21,000 doctors are expected to apply for them.

The BMA says it could mean that doctors who lose out would then be forced to take staff-grade jobs that do not count towards consultant training, essentially putting their careers "on hold".

The BMA has launched a "Train not Drain" campaign in order to pressurize the Government to stall MMC for a year so extra training posts can be created.

The MMC specialist training programmes will be advertised in the next couple of months and the BMA believes intense competition will only serve to drive doctors out of the National Health Service and overseas.

The BMA's latest research suggests that 55.3% of junior doctors would consider going overseas if they could not find a training post while 42% would consider leaving medicine altogether.

According to the BMA, thousands of doctors will be attending interviews within a short period, "causing potential disruption to services, which has not yet been planned for" and says the NHS trusts lack the tools or IT infrastructure to support the new recruitment process, along with little career guidance for junior doctors.

Dr Jo Hilborne, chairman of the BMA Junior Doctors Committee, says the cost of training a doctor to this level is around a quarter of a million pounds and though medical training does need to be reformed, it should not be at the price of an exodus from the NHS.

The BMA is calling for the programme to be delayed for a year in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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