The Department of Health has decided to delay implementation of proposals to shake up doctor and nurse training funding for at least another year.

Changes to the multiprofessional education and training levy funds received by trusts each year were first proposed as part of the 2008 next stage review.

We will be keeping the status quo for funding for the next financial year while we test our proposals

DH

The proposals aim to move away from the present block grant system and towards a system where funding reflects student numbers and also provides new funds to contribute to the cost of hosting non-medical clinical trainees.

The new system was originally due to be implemented at the end of 2008 but was put off when it became clear some big teaching hospitals would be destabilised by the change. It was then hit by fresh controversy late last year when HSJ revealed plans to cut funds used to cover junior doctor salaries.

At present trusts receive funds to cover all the basic salary costs of a junior doctor in their third year of specialty training. The DH has proposed to cut that to 40 per cent and argues that is justifiable as such junior doctors are effectively contributing to the trust’s work for 60 per cent of their paid time.

The proposals have been through several iterations, but the latest seen by HSJ propose cutting salary support funds for junior doctors in all years apart from second year foundation students.

Both the British Medical Association and hospital chiefs have said the cuts could act as a disincentive to trusts hosting junior doctors.

The DH has confirmed the plans will now be put on hold for another year.

A spokeswoman told HSJ: “Following constructive discussions with our stakeholders, we have recognised their concerns. We will continue to proceed with caution. We will be keeping the status quo for funding for the next financial year while we test our proposals.”

Although no funding streams will change, the DH plans to roadtest a series of options for junior doctor salary funding at a selection of pilot sites from April.

The delay will leave hospitals hosting non-medical clinical trainees underfunded for another year.

The DH has estimated the annual unfunded cost to trusts of hosting such trainees is around £400m. It also estimates institutes hosting postgraduate doctors have additional unmet costs of £500m.

The funding review aims to address some of that shortfall by redistributing £120m of “overfunding” that the DH has identified in the undergraduate medical training placements system.