Medical student General practitioner Consultant Scotland Junior doctor

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BMA warns training push could backfire

The BMA is warning against increasing the numbers of doctors in core training, saying it risks making recruitment problems worse.

In response to a Health and Social Care Directorate consultation on determining specialty training numbers, BMA Scotland says the process for setting core numbers must be informed by the anticipated requirements of higher specialty training establishments, which should be based on consultant and GP service needs.

The BMA says: ‘Scotland must ensure it is able to continue to attract and retain high-calibre trainees. Vital to this are high-quality training programmes and meaningful consultant and GP employment.

‘We believe that the repeated suggestions to increase core training numbers, while not only being counter to the move of a trained doctor-delivered service, are likely to exacerbate, rather than solve, recruitment problems.’

In its response, the BMA says that it is ‘deeply concerning’ there remain significant discrepancies and inaccuracies in workforce data.

Data dispute

It adds: ‘In some cases this is restricting or even preventing decisions on specialty training numbers from being made, and hampering any longer term modelling.’

The BMA also expresses concern about medical undergraduate numbers. While welcoming the reduction in numbers for 2012, it says there are insufficient foundation programme places for expected graduate output.

It warns: ‘As completing foundation year one is essential for full registration with the GMC, it is vital that there are foundation programme places for all graduates of UK medical schools, and this will require an increased number of places in Scotland.’

The BMA says ensuring posts are filled is crucial to a discussion on specialty training numbers, as vacancies have an impact on training establishments and service delivery.

In addition to meaningful long-term career opportunities and high-quality training, other factors that are vital to ensuring Scotland is able to continue to attract and retain high-calibre trainees include access to comprehensive careers advice, employment contracts that reflect the length of the training programme, improved access to flexible training, and thorough induction.

Call for review

The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh is warning of ‘pressing service, training recruitment and retention needs’ in acute medicine. Its response to the consultation on specialty training numbers says there is a need for urgent review of the consultant workforce currently involved in caring for acute medical admissions.

It adds: ‘There is increasing evidence that a medical career in Scotland is now considered as being comparatively unattractive, and this merits urgent attention.’