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Logo of bmjThis ArticleThe BMJ
BMJ. 2007 September 22; 335(7620): 582.
PMCID: PMC1988978

Junior doctors will find jobs—as long as they are flexible, says health department

The Department of Health estimates that around 1500 junior doctors in England who are currently in short term “employment guarantee” contracts will not be able to secure coveted “run-through” training posts.

But they should, the department believes, be able to get some kind of job in the NHS when the second round of the recruitment process concludes at the end of October.

The department estimates that around 2500 short term contracts were awarded to guarantee the employment of junior doctors in the months immediately after the crisis in recruitment caused by the flawed medical application training service (MTAS) system, which was introduced earlier this year (BMJ 2007;334:1027, doi: 10.1136/bmj.39217.598819.DB).

The appointment process was originally due to have been completed in England by 1 August, but after MTAS was scrapped a second recruitment round was added, with appointments due to be made by the end of October.

Of the 2500 junior doctors awarded the temporary employment guarantee contracts from 1 August, the health department estimates that some 1000 doctors have already secured either run-through or fixed term service appointment posts and have already moved or are about to move into these training posts.

It believes that there will be plenty of potential job opportunities for the 1500 doctors who have not yet secured a training post, providing that they are prepared to be flexible about where they work and what specialty they work in.

About 1400 run-through training posts are yet to be filled in the second round. Many junior doctors on employment guarantee contracts will be able to apply for one of these remaining posts. However, they are not automatically guaranteed these jobs, as they will be competing with applicants from other parts of the NHS.

But a further 1000 fixed term service posts are going to be made available, as promised in May by the former health secretary, Patricia Hewitt, and also those service posts that were already in place and that have become vacant will be available.

“I can't say absolutely definitely that no one will fail to get a post,” said a health department spokesperson. “But there are several opportunities for them to find posts.”

Meanwhile the Modernising Medical Careers (MMC) team has rushed out a consultation paper on how recruitment will operate in 2008. It wants responses by Tuesday 25 September.

John Tooke's inquiry into the revised training process has said that its recommendations can apply only from 2009. The MMC team is trying to decide how best to handle applications in 2008. It warns that next year's competition will be even tougher than this year's, with three applicants for each training place, whereas this year the ratio was 2:1. It has to decide whether to allow applicants in England to submit personal CVs, rather than to use the standard, computerised application form, and whether to allow local deaneries to use their own systems of recruiting, rather than using a national computer system.

The MMC team is also asking whether the units of application used this year were too large. The one covering London, for instance, stretched from Milton Keynes to Dover. It is also considering staggering the start dates, with one in August and one in December.


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