The four United Kingdom Chief Medical Officers announced on 29 September indicative figures of 22,000 to 23,000 for the number of places planned to be available during the transition to new specialty training programmes in 2007. Further information is required before final figures can be confirmed early in the new year. Further work is being undertaken so that more precise information, including a breakdown by specialty, can be given in due course.
The provisional number of training places in England projected by the postgraduate deans to be available next year is slightly in excess of 30,000. This includes about 11,500 places in foundation programmes, 15,500 places in specialty training programmes and a further 3,300 places in fixed-term specialty training appointments.
These figures are indicative and are still subject to further discussions with postgraduate deans, medical Royal Colleges and the national health service and will be refined later in the year. Work on the distribution across individual specialties is now under way and the outcome will be published when the figures are confirmed. Foundation programmes are not specialty specific.
The number of training places in each training programme is planned over time to provide the number of specialists and general practitioners necessary to deliver patient care. Entry to training programmes will be by competition. Each applicant will be able to make up to four applications and can therefore choose to compete for both specialties and locations.
Selection and recruitment will be managed by postgraduate deans according to person specifications developed for each specialty. Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed by expert panels comprising specialists in the field and service representatives. This process will be supported by the Medical Training Application Service (MTAS), a UK-wide web-based system designed to support the efficient handling of applications. This new system went live on 25 October this year for the handling of foundation programme applications and goes live January 2007 for the start of specialty recruitment.
Junior doctors have access to personal career advice through their postgraduate medical deanery's career advice service, which has received funding specifically for this purpose. For more general advice about the changes in specialty/general practitioner training, a comprehensive plan of events, publications, presentations and articles will start with the launch of the new programmes by England's Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, on 13 November 2006. These are planned specifically for the transitional years. In the future, NHS Careers has proposed to offer web-based, national information to support local career advisers.
Deaneries are working with trusts to establish a detailed calendar of interview dates, locations and times for the national recruitment next year.
The national interview schedule will be made available in advance so that trainees will be able to identify the four possible dates they might be interviewed and, with this information, cover and service arrangements can be planned well in advance.
Trainees can have a maximum of four interviews—this is a far smaller number than many trainees have had in the past and with advance planning of dates trusts will be able to manage the situation without undue disruption.
Recruitment to medical training programmes starting in 2007 will be undertaken through the medical training application service (MTAS). In order to use MTAS, recruitment teams need to have access to the same IT infrastructure as is required to access national health service jobs: a standard internet browser and an e-mail account.
I understand that the junior doctors’ committee have voiced a number of concerns in the press around modernising medical careers (MMC), though they have not made a direct approach. Officials have met with their representatives to discuss these concerns and are keen to engage further with all stakeholders to ensure smooth implementation of MMC.