The NHS Future Forum is due to recommend that interim measures are put in place quickly to prevent the quality of training from suffering as strategic health authorities wind down.
The move is an attempt to fill gaps left in the Department of Health’s consultation paper Developing the Healthcare Workforce.
The paper did not make it clear what would happen to the functions of the deaneries, which oversee clinical training and are attached to SHAs, due to be abolished in July 2012.
The uncertainty has led to deaneries “haemorrhaging staff”, according to a medical workforce source. The source said: “At some deaneries a quarter of their staff are temporary. There’s a real danger that next year’s [application process] for junior doctors will get messed up, in an equivalent of MTAS.”
MTAS, or the Medical Training Application Service, was an application system to match junior doctors with consultant training posts and was ditched in 2007 following several high profile failures and resignations.
The source said: “What’s needed is some clear statement that whatever their long term future, we have to find a place to house these SHA functions.”
Because most of the government’s plans for education and training were not contained in the health bill, they do not need to go through parliament so are not subject to the same time pressures as other reforms.
However, HSJ understands forum members have come up with a list of potential solutions.
The suggestions, which would be subject to local determination, include bolting deaneries onto groups of foundation trusts, HSJ understands.
This would appease those who have feared that the deaneries would be abolished altogether – a scenario left open by the DH’s consultation paper.
However, moving deaneries closer to foundation trusts is likely to raise eyebrows among those already concerned about FTs gaining greater powers over training.
Many people fear the DH’s proposal for trusts to commission, as well as provide, training could create a conflict of interest.
A forum member told HSJ: “The [education and training] paper won’t be a woolly document, it will set out a pragmatic way forward. There has been a lot of strong feeling from people we’ve talked to during the listening exercise that there’s great uncertainty about the deaneries.
“I think there will be some very common sense approaches and more of a clarification that the manpower [contained within deaneries] will be needed. It needs to be done quickly to sort the problems out.”