The appointment of a chair to a new medical education body recommended by health minister Lord Darzi has been delayed amid fears the role is seen as a 'poisoned chalice'.

The deadline for applications to the Medical Education England post was originally 14 October, but has been extended by six weeks.

The next stage review proposed that the body, known as NHS MEE, would play a central role in doctors' and dentists' workforce planning, education and training.

Workforce disasters

It is hoped this will prevent high-profile workforce disasters such as the Medical Training Application Service, the failed online medical recruitment system, which left thousands of junior doctors scrambling for training posts last year.

London deanery programme director Richard Marks said: "It's seen as a poisoned chalice. It's a high profile job and everyone's going to be watching. Whoever gets the job will have to make a lot of very difficult decisions with no obvious solutions."

After the initial recruitment round, there was a three-week gap before a second advert was placed through the Appointments Commission, with a deadline of last Monday. The advert calls for a registered medical practitioner with a "proven track record of national or international leadership in medicine who also commands the respect of other health professions, in particular dentistry, healthcare sciences and pharmacy".

The idea for NHS MEE was first put forward by Sir John Tooke in his inquiry report into Modernising Medical Careers, Aspiring to Excellence.

A Department of Health spokesman said the process had been extended "to enable as wide a field of candidates as possible to consider an application for the post".