A planning blunder by the Government could well leave several junior doctors jobless. The British Medical Association estimates that more than 11,000 junior doctors will be unable to find training posts next year.
Most of them have already been trained at a cost of over a quarter of a million pounds of the taxpayer's money to train and now would be forced to leave the NHS to find work abroad, while many more could be left unemployed.
The new situation has arisen following a major Government shake-up in the training system with the new system presently being phased in.
Junior doctors underwent the following stages of training until last year : pre-registration house officer for a year, senior house officer for at least two years, and finally, specialist registrar for at least four years.
The new training program known as 'Modernizing Medical Careers' will now include just two grades a two-year foundation program followed by a specialist-training program of varying duration.
In August 2007, those finishing the senior house officer level under the old system will be applying for jobs for their final specialist training stage at the same time as the first batch of doctors under the new system complete their two year foundation course which would mean that some 21,000 junior doctors, including international medical graduates, will be competing for the same specialist training posts - of which there are just 9,500.
The BMA is warning that many of the 11,500 who miss out on jobs may be forced to move into "non-training" posts, where they will not be able to develop their skills.
A survey by the organization last year indicated that most junior doctors would prefer to continue their training overseas than to take up a non-training post. Australian authorities have already come to the UK to recruit doctors.
Dr Jo Hilborne, chairman of the BMA's Junior Doctors Committee, said: 'To get to this stage of their careers, these doctors will have spent five years at medical school and at least two years in postgraduate training.'
'For each of them, this has cost the taxpayer around a quarter of a million pounds. The fact that they could face unemployment is outrageous.
'The alternative - pushing doctors into dead-end jobs so they never get essential skills that would benefit their patients - is unacceptable and won't work.
'Doctors are simply going to leave the NHS instead.'
The BMA's Junior Doctors Committee plans to meet with government officials on Friday to find out what employment options were available for those who cannot get into specialist training programs.
Dr Hilborne added: 'The BMA has worked very hard to try to make these reforms work. We first raised the issue of shortages of specialist posts last year, but it still hasn't been addressed. Now is the time for answers.'
Tory health spokesman Andrew Lansley said: 'At the point at which foundation year two comes in under the new modernising medical careers structure in August 2007, a large number of senior house officers who have come through the previous training route will also be looking for specialist training posts.
'I repeatedly questioned the government over their planning failures for the provision of specialist training posts, but they appear to have proceeded without working them out.'