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Last Updated: Friday, 20 April 2007, 13:14 GMT 14:14 UK
Rescue package for doctors leaked
Protesting doctors
Doctors have protested about the application system
A rescue plan for doctors unable to get a training post under a controversial new system has been drawn up by NHS managers, the BBC has learned.

A leaked document reveals a number of ideas, including asking a charity if it could take doctors to work overseas.

There has been intense criticism of the system, which is set to leave thousands of doctors without training posts.

NHS bosses say there will be jobs - but doctors complain these posts will not involve any training.

Volunteering has always been popular among NHS staff
Sian Thomas, NHS Employers

Medics may also be able to retake the last year of the foundation training scheme they have just completed.

NHS Employers drew up the proposals after it was estimated there have been around 10,000 more applications than there are jobs for trainees.

Between 500 and 1,300 of those doctors about to finish their foundation training, and will be the focus of the rescue scheme.

The other applicants will be in the equivalent "old-fashioned" post of senior house officer or working in other roles in the NHS, perhaps as locum doctors or in long-term non-training posts. Some applicants will be working outside the NHS.


Jo Hilborne, chair of the British Medical Association's junior doctors committee, said: "The government can no longer deny the seriousness of this crisis.

"As a matter of urgency, the health secretary must guarantee that no doctor in training will be denied a career in the NHS as a result of poor workforce planning."

She said the charity Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) was a respected organisation which many individual doctors chose to join.

We all relish the opportunity to work abroad but the idea that you can use this to bolster a failed government policy is ludicrous
Remedy UK spokesman

But she said it was "just humorous" to suggest VSO posts as an alternative to an NHS training jobs.

A spokesman for the grassroots doctors organisation Remedy UK said: "We all relish the opportunity to work abroad but the idea that you can use this to bolster a failed government policy is ludicrous."

NHS Employers deputy director Sian Thomas said it was "disappointing" that the discussions on this issue had been leaked.


But a Department of Health spokesman said: "We have no plans to arrange for trainee doctors from the NHS to do voluntary service with VSO and we do not expect thousands of doctors currently working in the NHS to be facing unemployed in August.

"Speciality training posts in the UK are very highly-skilled, so there will always be competition for these posts, but these are only training posts, and there are still jobs in the NHS for other doctors.

"Most VSO voluntary posts require three to five years post-registration experience, so would not be an option for trainee doctors."

A spokesman for VSO confirmed it had been approached by the Department of Health, but said there was currently no plan to take trainee doctors.

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb said: "Volunteering your services overseas is a great thing for doctors to do, but for the government to consider sending junior doctors abroad just to get it out of a hole is disgraceful."

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley, said: "There may be a long history of doctors from the UK taking up training posts abroad, but this is because they choose to not because the Government has forced them to."

The online application process, MTAS, is part of the Modernising Medical Careers programme, aimed at shortening the time a doctor spends in training from 14 to 11 years.

The government has already announced two reviews of MTAS - one which looks at this year's applications and one which looks at what changes there should be in the future.

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has already apologised for the problems.

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Review into doctor recruitment
07 Mar 07 |  Health
Jobs protest planned by doctors
02 Mar 07 |  Health

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