Junior doctors who do not get training posts through the flawed Medical Training Application Service (MTAS) could face further misery because the government is stalling on a new contract for non-training grade doctors, the BMA warns.
Latest figures show that 34,250 doctors are chasing 18,500 specialist training posts in the UK. The government has so far given no commitment that trainee doctors will be able to continue their training if their applications are unsuccessful. If they are to remain in the NHS, the only option for many will be to apply to staff grade or trust grade posts, which are not accredited for training.
However, BMA research published this week shows that for many, leaving the NHS altogether is a more attractive option than a non-training post, with two thirds of applicants (66.4%) saying they would not consider, or would be unlikely to consider, a staff grade job.
And the BMA is concerned that ongoing delays to an improved contract for staff grade and associate specialist (SAS) doctors will make the posts even less appealing. It is currently waiting for the government to approve a proposed contract deal before it can go to a ballot of doctors.
Mr Mohib Khan, Chairman of the BMA SAS Committee, says:
"We are the last group of healthcare workers to have the opportunity to vote for a new contract. The government seems intent on delaying the contract so that the money earmarked to improve prospects for SAS doctors disappears into the black hole of NHS finances.
"The problems with training reforms, combined with the mishandling of the new SAS contract, will create a rapidly expanding group of demoralised doctors who are deeply pessimistic about their future careers in medicine. Many of these doctors will have been working hard to meet targets, reduce waiting lists and ensure the efficient delivery of good quality patient care and will feel betrayed by the government. For a government intent on modernising the NHS and driving up standards, creating thousands of disaffected demoralised doctors does not seem sensible."
Dr Jo Hilborne, Chairman of the BMA Junior Doctors Committee, says:
"Junior doctors desperately want careers in the NHS. They want the chance to become the next generation of consultants and GPs. Non-training posts are currently not an attractive option for doctors, and further delays to a new contract aren't helping."