The highest number ever of medical students in United Kingdom could miss out on the National Health Service (NHS) junior doctor training, this year, despite the shortage of medics in the health sector.
A total of 791 medical undergraduates, who have applied to start training as junior doctors at the start of August, will not be allocated to start their training at a hospital in the UK.
This has sparked concern among medical organisations, citing that the mismatch between demand for and supply of training places, will lead to the NHS missing out on medics it seriously need and that some of those denied a place will either go to work abroad instead or give up medicine altogether.
Dr Dustyn Saint, a GP in Norfolk, tweeted the health secretary, Sajid Javid, about the situation, saying: “Sajid Javid sort this out! You know how much general practice needs these people in a few years, standing by and doing nothing is inexcusable.”
Another doctor said: “It is bonkers (crazy) that 800 would-be doctors could be denied training places at a time when the NHS in England is short of 8,200 doctors.”
Half of the 791 (393) will soon graduate from UK medical schools while the other half (398) are “eligibility applicants” – those with a medical degree from an overseas medical school who are entitled to work in the UK or who graduated from a British medical school before August 2020.
The UK Foundation Programme (UKFPO) ensures that aspirant doctors who have just graduated from medical school are able to start foundation one training, the bottom rung of the ladder that leads to medics becoming fully qualified. Training usually starts in August immediately after graduation.
The UKFPO has warned that the foundation programme is “over-subscribed” to a record level this year, raising the prospect that some of the 791 may not be allocated a training slot.
While it has already filled 8,209 foundation training places, the 791 who have missed out so far have been put on a reserve list.
The UKFPO, which is run by Health Education England (HEE), has told them that: “We would like to reassure the applicants on our reserve list, who may be feeling anxious, that we are currently working very hard to find additional places for everyone who needs one.”
The British Medical Association has voiced concern about the large number of unallocated medics.
“Now we have a situation where a record number are left with unnecessary uncertainty about where they are headed to this August,” said Khadija Meghrawi, the co-chair of its medical students committee.
“In a time where student mental health is declining, this additional source of uncertainty and stress is particularly unfair.”