• Health Education England to launch internal review after email mishap angers doctor
  • Email error affected almost 300 junior doctors looking to transfer to new jobs
  • Doctor tells HSJ the applications process was a “farce”

Hundreds of junior doctors had NHS job offers retracted yesterday evening due to an email blunder by Health Education England.

HSJ has learned the mishap affected 293 junior doctors in England who were hoping to transfer from one part of the country to another.

Those affected were sent an email at 5.30pm yesterday telling them they had been successful and a job was waiting for them, only to receive second message 20 minutes later saying their offer was being retracted and a “technical error” had been made.

Of the 293, 140 doctors were left dismayed after being told later they did not in fact have a job offer.

Several doctors contacted HSJ last night to express their anger at the mistake, claiming it was symptomatic of how the NHS treats its junior doctor workforce.

One trainee said: “The whole process has made me feel thoroughly undervalued and shows a complete lack of respect for trainees.”

Another added: “I’m trying to transfer to another region so I can live my life in the same home as my wife, so we can buy a house, have kids. Live the sort of life normal people live.

“I got very excited when finally something good happened - a job offer in the right region. Only to be told 20 minutes later actually I don’t really have an offer, right after calling my wife and family in a fit of excitement. This is the reality that makes trainees so angry.”

Health Education England today apologised for the error and said it would be launching an investigation to understand what happened.

Doctors described the entire applications process as being beset with problems including poor communication, being unable to speak to people on the phone, links in emails that did not work, and online portals that did not allow job applications to be saved.

One doctor said the process was a “farce” adding: “The anxiety and stress that provoked was huge… told you have a job and then immediately having that withdrawn made me feel sick.

“They have finally resent the emails which confirm that I now do have a job, however all it says is that there is a suitable vacancy in the deanery. The deanery is huge so again, I still have no idea what my post will be or where it will actually be located within that area.”

Professor Sheona MacLeod, chair of Health Education England’s postgraduate deans, apologised for the mistake to doctors who she said were “understandably distressed” by the error.

She added that a “significant number” of those whose offers were retracted had actually received the correct information.

Prof MacLeod said: “This morning, we have clarified the position with all the doctors affected. We will contact the doctors who were incorrectly told they had a place when there were no posts available.”

She said HEE fully appreciated how important the transfer issues were for doctors, and that the body was working to improve issues affecting junior doctors’ lives. But, she admitted: “This error shows there is more to do in this area and we are committed to doing what needs to be done.”