The British Medical Association (BMA) is to advise junior doctors on their options if they are not appointed to a new job through the discredited Medical Training Application Service (MTAS).
The pledge comes as a new BMA analysis of figures on the MTAS website shows that the actual number of UK specialist training posts available is 18,518 - not between 22,000 and 23,000 as the government has publicly indicated. An estimated 32,000 doctors have applied for them, and although some of these are from overseas, it is inevitable that a large number of UK doctors will not have training posts in August.
Dr Jo Hilborne, chairman of the BMA Junior Doctors Committee, says:
“Not only has the government failed to design a fair recruitment process, they've also misled everyone on the number of jobs available. Even if the application system improves, thousands of doctors are going to find themselves without a training post in August. We really don't want highly qualified medical staff to be forced to leave the NHS, but if they can't complete their training in this country, it could be their only option."
Previous BMA research has shown that over half of junior doctors would consider leaving the UK if they were unable to find a training post.
The BMA guidance will be published in early May and will cover areas such as:
- Options if they feel forced to consider careers outside medicine
- Details of the BMA's counselling and advice services
- Opportunities to work overseas
Dr Tom Dolphin, deputy chairman of the BMA Junior Doctors Committee, adds:
“It's a terrible waste of talent and public money but the government's failure to plan the NHS workforce means that thousands of UK doctors aren't going to get opportunities to train to become GPs and consultants. At the moment there is very little in the way of a safety net for them. We're anticipating a huge upsurge in demand for our counselling and careers advice services."
The BMA believes that no doctor should be deprived of a training post as a result of flaws in the system and will provide advice and support to any member who believes they have been disadvantaged because of problems with MTAS. It has also explored the possibility of seeking to halt to the process on legal grounds, but has been advised that such a challenge would be unlikely to succeed.