Up to 1,000 new doctors could face unemployment
Up to 1,000 new doctors will face unemployment next year as there are too few training places available, it has been warned.UK graduates leave medical school qualified as a doctor but they must complete a foundation year, which is effectively an apprenticeship where they work under close supervision, before they are allowed to join the General Medical Council register and practice freely.
Official projections from the Department of Health body in charge of medical education shows that hundreds of medical graduates will be without a job next year, the Telegraph has learned.
The number of places in medical schools has been expanded since 2002 with the aim of the UK becoming self sufficient in doctors.
However, applicants from within the EU and a shortage of training posts means that for the first time there is a genuine prospect of doctors being unemployed.
It costs the UK taxpayer £260,000 to put each medical student through university and each student graduates with debt averaging £70,000.
The issue is being raised at the British Medical Association’s junior doctors conference in London.
Dr Ben Molyneux, deputy chairman of the Junior Doctors Committee said: “This is a problem that has been getting steadily worse in recent years and for the first time next year we certainly cannot guarantee that there will not be medical unemployment.
“Even the optimistic projections are that hundreds of graduates could be without a foundation place and the worse case projections are up to 1,000.”
“It is a tragedy not only for the taxpayer but also on a personal level, these doctors graduate with a small personal mortgage of debt.”
He said medical graduates would be left in limbo because without their foundation year they cannot work as doctors abroad and would be faced with treading water and applying again the following year, increasing the pressure for places.
“Most would end up leaving the profession,” he said. “These are people who are going to provide service for the NHS for the next 40 years. It would be a drop in the ocean of the NHS budget to provide foundation places for them, ” Dr Molyneux said.
The projections have been made by Medical Education England, the body in charge of postgraduate education and training of doctors.
There are more than 7,600 foundation places this year and the numbers of graduates leaving medical school only slightly exceeded that number.
However next year it is expected there will be up to 1,000 more medical students graduating than foundation places for them to work in.
The average starting salary for a foundation year doctor is £22,500 in England.
A court case due to be heard in Prague in October could exacerbate the problem as a medical school there has argued that its graduates should be allowed to apply for foundation place jobs in Britain on the same footing as UK graduates.
However in the Czech Republic and many other European countries, doctors graduate from medical school having effectively already completed a foundation year which could put them at an advantage when applying for jobs in Britain.
Tags: Doctors, DoH, GMC, Health Professionals, nhs cash shortages