Increased medical school places must be backed by a corresponding increase in foundation and specialty training places, according to the BMA

Doctors meeting technology data

The British Medical Association (BMA) has called for all medical graduates to be guaranteed foundation training places after figures have shown that the level of oversubscription for the programme is higher than in previous years.

The UK Foundation Programme (UKFPO) said that it had placed 791 applicants on the ‘reserve list’ for F1 training programmes across the UK—up from 258 in 2020, and 494 in 2021.

Ensuring that there are enough qualified doctors to meet future patient needs depends on ‘drastically’ increasing medical school places alongside foundation and speciality training places, the BMA said in its response.

The UKFPO said that it had filled 8209 foundation training places for this year, including 7405 in the primary list allocation, and 804 who accepted offers for priority and specialised programmes.

Of the successful applications on the primary list, 74% were allocated to their first preference foundation school, and 86% to one of their top two preferences.

Of the 791 applicants placed on the reserve list, 49.7% were UK medical school nominees, and 50.3% were applicants who met eligibility criteria.

An anxious wait for students

The UKFPO said that it will ‘be working closely with foundation schools and medical schools over the coming weeks to ensure suitable pastoral support is in place for reserve list applicants’, and that it would try to find training places for those on the reserve list ‘at the earliest opportunity, subject to primary list applicant withdrawals’.

All applicants on the reserve list are expected to be allocated a post for this year, it added, noting that, around 7% of applicants typically withdraw before placements begin.

Commenting on the situation, Khadija Meghrawi, BMA Medical Students Committee Co-chair, said: ‘We have made it clear to Government that all medical graduates should be guaranteed foundation placements, but now we have a situation where a record number are left with unnecessary uncertainty about where they are headed this August.

‘Both the Government and UKFPO have said that they expect all those on the reserve list to be allocated a place as in previous years, and we are relieved that this year’s reserve list won’t have to wait as long to be allocated their placements. However, it is concerning, after years of steadily increasing reserve numbers, that we’re seeing the same situation arise again.’

Lara Akinnawonu, BMA Medical Students Committee Co-chair, added: ‘As the BMA pointed out at the time of the increase in medical school places from 2018, a solution to the disparity between medical school places and foundation school places is needed to avoid this problem worsening in future, and this year’s data makes this even starker.

‘While there is a great need to drastically increase medical school places to ensure we are training enough doctors for the future, this must be backed with a corresponding increase in foundation and specialty training places, as well as resourcing for medical schools themselves.’

This article originally appeared on Medscape, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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