A raft of proposals aimed at improving the training of junior doctors will put patients at risk and waste taxpayers’ money, the British Medical Association has warned.
Under plans laid out in last year’s Shape of Training Review, medical students would be allowed to become fully registered with the General Medical Council when they graduate from university – instead of after their foundation year working in the NHS.
This idea was rejected by the British Medical Association’s annual conference this week.
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The BMA also warned against moves towards a more “generalist” approach to training and a reduction in the length of time required in practice to become a medical consultant, as suggested by the review.
The GMC has also raised concerns about the plans, pointing out that 531 doctors across both foundation years failed last year to be signed off as competent. Almost 380 of these were identified as being a serious concern.
Health Education England has said that it cannot continue to expand the number of training places for foundation year doctors and that allowing medical students to have a full licence to practise at graduation would mean they no longer have to work for the NHS at the start of their career.
However, the BMA’s annual representatives meeting supported a motion against the plans and warned it could also open up the foundation programme to competition from EU doctors who currently graduate after six years compared to the UK’s five.
Consultant orthopaedic surgeon Gordon Matthews said: “Medical schools fail to equip [graduates] for the immediate care of patients.”
“There’s a significant risk that UK graduates would find themselves unemployed.
“That’s a personal blow, but also a waste of talent and a waste of UK taxpayers’ money.”
In 2012-13, there were 295 more applicants than places on the 7,242-place programme.
Some were allocated spaces that became vacant but about 160 extra places had to be created to accommodate the oversubscription at extra cost to the NHS.
The BMA conference also rejected proposals to reduce the length of training, the creation of subconsultant grades and moves towards generalist training.
London anesthetics trainee Dr Tom Dolphin, who was a member of the advisory group to the Shape of Training Review also told the conference: “There is no point selecting the best and brightest, training them up at great expense for a role and then not letting them meet expectations.”
Dr Dolphin added: “The review is only one of many weapons being lined up against the profession right now.
“This is an egregious assault at the heart of medical standards, we cannot allow it to proceed.”