The final report of the Tooke inquiry (published today, Tuesday 8 January, 2008) is both an opportunity to deliver excellence in medical training, and an indictment of the government's handling of doctors' training, the BMA says.
Dr Hamish Meldrum, Chairman of Council at the BMA, says:
"This report charts a path that can lead us out of the current mess the government has made of doctors' training. While there are some areas of detail that need further, careful consideration, action on the key recommendations will deliver better education and training for doctors, for the NHS, and for the public.
"This inquiry has resulted in a damning indictment of the failings of government training reforms. We must never go back to a system that so contemptuously ignored the concerns of the medical profession. There must be better workforce planning, and far greater value placed on the crucial role of doctors within the NHS.
"But while this report gives us hope for the future, the huge problems facing doctors currently going through the system must not be ignored. There is massive competition for training posts, and many excellent doctors will not be able to progress in their careers because of poor workforce planning. In response to Sir John's challenge, the BMA is ready and willing to play a leading role in developing a mechanism for providing coherent advice on matters affecting the entire profession."
The BMA gives its strong endorsement to the recommendation that funding for education and training be protected. Mr Ram Moorthy, chairman of the BMA Junior Doctors Committee, says:
"It's crucial that money set aside for doctors' education and training is ringfenced. At the moment it's left to the vagaries of financial management in the NHS, and training budgets are being raided to cover trusts' deficits. Long-term investment in doctors' training is crucial to patient care. We strongly welcome the thrust of this recommendation, and hope the government will agree."
The BMA says the proposal for a new body, the NHS Medical Education England, will provide opportunities to improve the coherence of medical education.
Professor Michael Rees, chairman of the BMA Medical Academic Staff Committee, says:
"Proper funding for clinical undergraduate education is essential. There must be far greater co-operation between the NHS and the university sector."