Junior doctors with nowhere to go

MARK NICHOLLS Scores of junior doctors in the eastern region have been left with promising careers in tatters after it emerged that a new NHS training system has gone "disastrously wrong.


Scores of junior doctors in the eastern region have been left with promising careers in tatters after it emerged that a new NHS training system has gone "disastrously wrong."

The changes, which have brought two training streams together this year, has meant that there are not enough training jobs for junior doctors to move into, meaning they now face an uncertain future.

Many have not even been given interviews under the Modernising Medical Careers (MMC) initiative and are left with the prospect of seeing their training brought to a standstill.

From about 100 junior doctors surveyed at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, more than 30pc have not got interviews for the next stage of their careers.

Worst affected are junior doctors in the fourth year of their post-graduate training and looking to specialise, rather than those emerging this summer from the UEA medical school.

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Katharine Stanley, who is a Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology and a Clinical Tutor at the N&N, said there was a view that the application process for training posts was flawed, with limited information on forms, which meant the interviewing consultants were not able to get a clear picture of the potential of a candidate.

"This means that we may end up with those who are not the most able candidates," she said. "Many consultants nationally are considering withdrawing from the interview process because they are so angry with the system.

"Junior doctors are terribly upset and angry. They feel completely let down and do not know where to turn next because they are finding it very difficult to get answers when they are not short-listed for interview. For some, they feel their career has been left in tatters."

It costs £250,000 to train a doctor and, nationally, it is suspected that 8,000 junior doctors will be left without a new training post.

Miss Stanley said that those who failed to get an interview will not necessarily be without jobs but may not obtain a training position. The fear is that when they reapply next year, there will be even fewer training posts.

Consultants want to see training places kept back for a second round of interviews and about 80 consultants from the N&N have signed a letter to MPs about their concerns.

They also want to see a review of the process before the second round of interviews with places held back for candidates not short-listed in the current phase.

Professor Ann Barrett, deputy head of the medical school at UEA, said the new way of managing the way junior doctors apply for jobs had gone wrong but added: "It will not have an impact on our first medical students."

The first doctors graduate from UEA this summer but Prof Barrett said the problem arose for doctors who were well into their post-graduate training.

"All graduates from this year at UEA have got a job but in hospitals such as the N&N there are a lot of doctors who are in that position of not having a job and not knowing what the future is for them.

"Hopefully the system will have sorted itself out by the time it comes round for our own graduates but the doctors in this position at present are in a terrible state. They have done four years training after qualifying and are now being told there are no jobs for them."

Dr Tom Dolphin, the deputy chairman of the BMA junior doctors' committee, said: "The system is going disastrously wrong. Highly-qualified doctors with huge amounts of experience haven't been offered any interviews."