Jobs shortage worse than before

THE number of trainees facing uncertainty over jobs is at its highest level in recent years, it has been revealed.

The UK Foundation Programme Office (UKFPO) has delayed plans to announce the exact number of trainees who will be placed on a reserve list, admitting that “the level of oversubscription is higher than in previous years.”

It was confirmed in October that there were more applicants to the foundation programme than available places for the third year running.

By this stage in the process the UKFPO would normally be in a position to reassure junior doctors that all reserve list applicants would be placed before the start of the programme. However this year they are not yet in a position to provide such reassurance.

In a statement, the UKFPO said: “[T]he final figure is not yet clear and the UKFPO is concerned that quoting potentially inaccurate figures at this stage would create undue anxiety amongst applicants, especially as the level of oversubscription is higher than in previous years.”

The announcement follows a commitment by the minister for health in England, Dan Poulter, that all graduates of UK medical schools would secure places in 2013.

Health Education England and the other UK health departments are said to be working on fulfilling this pledge and each foundation school will be asked to accommodate additional foundation doctors for the 2013 intake.

The UKFPO says it will share “the more reliable numbers” as the “final figures become clearer”.

Mr Poulter told Parliament recently: “The four UK health departments and Health Education England are considering urgently how to manage any oversupply [to the foundation programme in 2013] in advance of the receipt of accurate information on the numbers involved.”

The BMA has welcomed the government’s pledge.

Alice Rutter, co-chair of the BMA’s Medical Student Committee said: “The BMA has been putting pressure on the government to address the problems resulting from the ongoing oversubscription to the foundation programme, including highlighting that some medical graduates could face unemployment in years to come. We look forward to seeing the government fulfil this promise.”

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