AN expert group has been set up in a bid to avoid a medical recruitment crisis in 2012.
The Medical Programme Board, which advises the government on medical education and training, has formed a working group to ensure continuous management of the education and recruitment programme. There are fears that staff losses prompted by government plans to replace deaneries with local skills networks will cause delays in specialty recruitment next year.
The BMA’s Junior Doctors’ Committee (JDC) has said deaneries are already losing staff and are increasingly relying on temporary workers. The committee is concerned that further loss of deanery staff and functions in the run up to the abolition of strategic health authorities in April 2013 risks a medical recruitment crisis that “has echoes of MTAS”, referring to the chaos in 2007 surrounding the medical training application service.
JDC vice chairman Andrew Collier told BMJ Careers: “We’re concerned at the movement of staff because of the uncertainty around deaneries, and we’re worried that there won’t be enough staff to coordinate shortlisting and interviews.
“If deaneries can’t process the data they have because they don’t have enough people, everything will take a bit longer. This recruitment round might all get delayed and pushed back, putting people at risk of not being in post in time for August 2012.”
From July, deaneries will be asked to submit monthly reports to the Medical Programme Board’s working group detailing the status of staffing and resources for its medical recruitment functions. The hope is that any shortages will be dealt with early.
The group will be made up of key stakeholders, including the BMA and postgraduate deans, and will report to Medical Education England – an arm’s length body funded by the Department of Health.
A DoH spokesman told BMJ Careers: “What the Medical Programme Board has agreed to do with strategic health authorities is establish an assurance process to ensure that there is continuous management of the education and recruitment programme through this period.”
Specialty recruitment for posts starting in August and September 2012 will take place in a single round starting in November. This replaces the previous system where two rounds of recruitment happened in November and February. The DoH hopes the new system will be simpler for trainees.