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UK specialty training recruitment for 2017 is now open.
For the first time, doctors with a medical condition or disability are guaranteed special consideration in the allocation of offers.
This follows concerns voiced to the BMA, which we pursued with training authorities.
Applicants with a medical condition or disability for which they need to work in a particular location, and those who are carers for someone who is disabled, will be pre-allocated to their required region if they score highly enough to achieve an offer.
This year, the recruitment round introduces a formalised swapping process across all specialties except for academic programmes, open to applicants once they have accepted offers.
This process gives a further opportunity for juniors to train in their preferred region by swapping with a fellow applicant or into a vacant place.
We hope it can help at least some of the applicants who are placed in the agonising position of being allocated to a region far from their partner or family.
These developments apply to England, Scotland and Wales. You can read full details in the new applicant handbook online and found on the specialty training website.
To go further, we have also established a formal working group on linking specialty applications.
In the foundation programme, partners can already do this.
In specialty training, partners may be applying to different specialties, levels or in different recruitment rounds, which makes it a challenge but this is a vitally important issue for many doctors and we are looking for solutions.
Even after accepting offers, juniors are often left in limbo for long periods – and given few details and woefully short time to plan for our new jobs.
We have agreed a new Code of Practice where Health Education England is now obliged to provide training programme information to juniors as soon as possible after they have accepted their offer on the Oriel system, and at least 12 weeks in advance. It’s eight weeks under the current system.
Trainees should also be given more detail as to the geographical area they are working in.
One big improvement is in the provision of rota information. Employers will provide the generic rota eight weeks in advance, enabling annual leave applications and should in due course consign fixed leave to history. Duty rosters will be available six weeks in advance.
HEE will be publishing progress reports on a regular basis so we can hold them to account.
Junior doctors’ working lives are tough enough already, but often made worse by inflexible rules.
There is much the NHS still needs to do in becoming a modern and responsive employer, but what the BMA has negotiated is a step in the right direction.
Jeeves Wijesuriya is JDC co-deputy chair with responsibility for education and training
Read updated guidance on applying for a specialty training post, and guidance on the reasonable adjustments that should be made for medical students and trainees with disabilities.
Hmm if you have a non medic partner but have children it looks like you get less support than if you are both medics - I'm in a region far from my wife she had to give up work as a result and I never see my children - work life balance ?