Specialty training ‘limits doctors’, survey finds

MORE than half of trainee doctors and new GPs think the current specialty training programme limits doctors’ potential.

Criticism for the Modernising Medical Careers (MMC) programme emerged in the latest BMA survey of doctors who graduated in 2006. The BMA has questioned the 431 graduates each year as the cohort was the first to follow the MMC pathway.

Of the 372 doctors who responded to the 2012 survey, 54 per cent agreed or strongly agreed that the programme limited the potential of doctors. They highlighted duplication of placements, difficulty changing specialty and previous clinical experience not being taken into account as the main problem factors.

The majority of respondents (84 per cent) wanted more flexible specialty training placements while 72 per cent believed taking time out of specialty training to work in a non-training post was stigmatising, with 59 per cent feeling the same about taking time out for family reasons.

A further 47 per cent also believed there is a stigma associated with changing specialty after foundation training. The BMA said this finding was “particularly concerning” due to the expected shortfall in GP trainees and oversupply of hospital specialty trainees.

Despite the criticism, only 12 per cent of those who responded to the survey said their specialty training so far had not allowed them to develop their career to the best of their ability.

Chair of the BMA’s Junior Doctor Committee Ben Molyneux branded the MMC “a mixed bag”, adding: “We have reduced the amount of flexibility in the system and it’s really slow progress to change things in the right way without going back to the bad old days of indeterminable length senior house officer posts.”

He said the BMA hopes to use the forthcoming junior doctor contract negotiations to make it easier to move between specialties.

The MMC training programme was introduced in 2005 in a bid to improve postgraduate training and supervision of doctors and to speed up training. However, it has been criticised for prompting trainees to choose a specialty too early and for reducing the breadth of training.