The junior doctor recruitment process in England could go as badly in 2008 as it did in 2007 unless trusts start preparing now, the BMA warns today (Thursday 3 January, 2008).
From this Saturday (5 January, 2008) doctors will be able to apply for training posts in England that start in August 2008. Competition will be more intense than in 2007, with an overall average of three applicants predicted for every post, and 20 to one in some of the most popular specialties.
Mr Ram Moorthy, chairman of the BMA Junior Doctors Committee says:
"After last year's catastrophe, junior doctors want to know that a process that affects their whole careers will be handled fairly. Our concern is that without adequate planning, the levels of competition could result in a lottery. Trusts need to get their recruitment practices in order, and start preparing now to ensure that there is no unfairness, and no negative impact on patient care."
There will be no artificial restrictions on the numbers of applications that can be submitted. The BMA has raised with employers the importance of trusts freeing up sufficient consultant time to ensure proper shortlisting and selection, and has issued guidance to consultants on managing the burden, advising them to plan emergency cover well in advance.
Dr Ian Wilson, deputy chairman of the BMA Consultants Committee, says:
"Strategic health authorities and medical deaneries, as well as NHS trusts, need to ensure that consultants are given adequate time to screen each and every application properly, so that good quality candidates go forward to interview. This is about ensuring quality and safety, as well as fairness."
The BMA will monitor the recruitment process for examples of unfair practices - there have already been suggestions that the high volume of applications will mean that some applications might be routinely discarded, a possibility that the BMA has condemned as unacceptable. It has also written to NHS Employers warning that trusts could be in breach of employment legislation if junior doctors have to start posts in 2008 without the necessary contractual documents.