Junior doctors, angry at the prospect of thousands being without jobs and government plans to ship them overseas, are lobbying MPs today.
The British Medical Association (BMA) has requested an urgent meeting with Health Secretary Hewitt after conducting new research showing that over 50 per cent of junior doctors are likely to leave the UK if their applications for jobs through the fatally flawed Medical Training Application Service (MTAS) are unsuccessful.
It was reported over the weekend that NHS Employers believe there are 10,000 more applicants than places available and is considering options for doctors who are at risk of unemployment.
The BMA research shows that many have already had jobs overseas confirmed.
The BMA surveyed 648 applicants about their intentions if their applications are unsuccessful.
Over half (55 per cent) said they would be likely to seek a training opportunity overseas and complete their whole training there, effectively keeping them out of the NHS for at least five years, and in many cases for their whole careers.
A significant number (4.5 per cent) have already had offers of posts overseas confirmed.
Four in ten (39 per cent) said they would seek medical employment outside the NHS.
More than two in five (44 per cent) said they would leave medicine and seek alternative employment in the UK.
Dr Jo Hilborne, chairman of the BMA’s Junior Doctors Committee, said yesterday: ‘The NHS could lose thousands of its best young doctors simply because of poor planning.
‘This is not acceptable. It’s unfair on them, it’s unfair on their patients, and it’s unfair on the taxpayers who’ve funded their training.
‘These changes have caused anxiety on a massive scale, and we are concerned about their impact on patient care as well as doctors’ morale.
‘We want to discuss ways of addressing this with the Health Secretary.’
The BMA added: ‘The first round of MTAS applications is currently underway, latest figures show that 34,250 doctors are chasing 18,500 UK posts, due to start in August.’
It added: ‘The BMA is concerned that a huge number of junior doctors will lose out on training posts and is calling for a safety net to prevent an exodus from the NHS.’
The BMA survey also shows:
Only one in 35 respondents (2.8 per cent) thought they would have a good chance of ever getting into long-term training if their MTAS application was unsuccessful.
More than four in five (83.2 per cent) did not think the second round of applications would give them a good opportunity to get into the speciality of their choice.
One option for unsuccessful candidates would be to take up either staff grade or trust grade posts in the NHS, where doctors provide a service but are not trained.
However, it is unknown how many of these posts will be available in August and they are unpopular with doctors because they can lead to career stagnation.
The BMA is calling for a guarantee from the Department of Health that no junior doctor will lose out on training as a result of MTAS or competition for posts.