Why are 30% of speciality training posts unfilled this year?

The number of unfilled vacancies in speciality training after the first round of recruitment increased by 30% this year, data from Health Education England shows.

In 2017, 908 of the 7487 training posts available were left unfilled after the first round of recruitment to first year speciality and core training. This is a 31% increase from 2016, when 693 of the 7366 available training posts were left unfilled at the same stage of the recruitment process.

Of the 908 unfilled posts, over 90% were in four specialities: general practice; core psychiatry training; acute care common stem (ACCS) acute medicine and core medical training; and paediatrics. General practice accounted for more than half of the unfilled vacancies.

What is the explanation for this data and what is to be done?

Comments (6) Add yours ↓
  1. Roger Kirby Professor of Urology

    The problem of unfilled posts is not confined to trainees. The proportion of unfilled consultant vacancies that are due to a lack of applicants has doubled in eight years, reaching 65% in 2016, a recent census has found.

    A survey conducted on behalf of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, and the Royal College of Physicians, was sent to all UK consultants and higher specialty trainees on 30 September 2016.

    It found that 45% of advertised consultant posts in 2016 were not filled, and 65% of these cases had no applicants. The proportion of unfilled posts due to a lack of applicants has increased from 32% in 2008 to 39% in 2011 and to 65% in 2016, the census found.

    Data from NHS Digital have shown that trusts are increasing their recruitment efforts to fill medical vacancies, posting 8% more advertisements for medical jobs on the NHS Jobs website in 2016-17 than in the previous year.

    The census found the largest number of advertised posts in the West Midlands (177; 11% of all advertised posts), which also had the largest number of unfilled vacancies at 74. Over the past five years the West Midlands, the north west, and Kent, Surrey, and Sussex have consistently advertised the most consultant posts, the census found, but they have also reported the largest number of posts that were not filled.

    August 11, 2017 Reply
  2. Roger Kirby Professor of Urology

    NHS trusts are increasing their recruitment efforts to fill vacancies, posting 8% more advertisements for medical jobs on NHS Jobs in 2016-17 than in the previous year.

    In the year to March 2017, NHS trusts in England advertised to fill 32 153 full time equivalent medical jobs, up from 29 776 in the year to March 2016.

    The increase in the number of posts advertised was greatest among foundation doctors and specialty doctors. The number of advertised vacancies for foundation doctors rose by 44% over this period, from 824 to 1185. The number of vacancies for specialty doctors rose by 12%, from 3785 to 4228, and the number of vacancies for consultants rose by 10%, from 9892 to 10 917.

    Commenting on the NHS Digital data, Andrew Dearden, BMA treasurer, said that patient care could be undermined if issues with staff recruitment were not tackled.

    “Across many parts of the NHS, recruitment and retention problems are leaving staff and services thinly stretched and affecting patients’ access to care,” he said. “Doctors are telling us they are struggling with unsustainable workloads to try to fill the gaps. This has a huge impact on morale, often leading to stress and burnout. If we cannot find a solution, it is inevitable that these doctors will consider looking elsewhere for jobs that provide them with greater career satisfaction and a better work-life balance.”

    Dearden added, “These issues need to be urgently tackled to ensure the NHS can continue to attract and retain frontline staff, and to ensure that it has the necessary resources to meet rising demand on services. Failure to do so will compound existing recruitment problems, adding to pressure on existing staff and affect access to, and quality of, patient care.”

    August 11, 2017 Reply
  3. Roger Kirby Professor Roger Kirby

    The rising cost of GPs’ indemnity cover could lead to the worst ever winter crisis, as fewer doctors are able to afford to work, the new chair of the BMA’s General Practitioners Committee has warned.

    Dr Richard Vautrey, who became chair of the committee last month, said that, after a reduction in the so called discount rate, GPs would see an unparalleled rise in indemnity fees. The “discount rate” is the rate that people receiving lump sums for personal injuries are expected to get if they invest the money. A reduction in this rate, which came into effect on 20 March, means that awards will have to be much higher to compensate.

    Dr Vautrey commented, “One of the serious problems is the issue of indemnity. We have secured, in the last contract negotiations, funding to pay for the typical indemnity rises that would have happened year on year. However, we are now facing a situation that with the discount rate change we’re in we’re going to potentially see a rise for indemnity which is unparalleled, compared with previous rises.”

    He said that if GPs were deterred from working extra sessions, such as in out-of-hours settings or extended surgeries, because of escalating indemnity fees, “we’re going to have a winter crisis that is a lot, lot worse than we have seen in previous years.” He added, “Doctors will simply not be able to afford to work in an out-of-hours session or to do an extra session within a practice, because the indemnity cost would be prohibitive.” Indemnity costs for doctors in private practice are also rising fast, especially in obstetrics and gynaecology.

    August 11, 2017 Reply
  4. Ben Challacombe Consultant Urologist

    We are sitting on a time bomb in the NHS here.
    There are more vacancies than ever before and no-one to fill them
    Being a doctor just isn’t regarded as a desirable career choice at present.
    No pay rise in ?5 years, ageing population, increasing public expectations etc.
    We need some good news stories or there will be no-one left to look after us when we are older.
    Inspire, mentor and train, and offer good leadership is all we can do

    August 13, 2017 Reply
  5. Roger Kirby

    Stephen Hawking has accused ministers of damaging the NHS, blaming the Conservatives in a passionate and sustained attack for slashing funding, weakening the health service though privatisation, demoralising staff by curbing pay and cutting social care support.

    The renowned 75-year-old physicist was speaking to promote an address he will give today at The a Royal Society of Medicine outlining how he owes his long life and achievements to the NHS care he received, and setting out his fears for a service he believes is being turned into “a US-style insurance system”.

    The author of A Brief History of Time did not name any minister or political party in his general complaint, but he blamed a raft of policies pursued since 2010 by the coalition and then the Conservatives for enfeebling the NHS and leaving it unable to cope with the demands being placed on it.

    “The crisis in the NHS has been caused by political decisions,” he said. “The political decisions include underfunding and cuts, privatising services, the public sector pay cap, the new contract imposed on the junior doctors and removal of the student nurses’ bursary.

    “Failures in the system of privatised social care for disabled and elderly people has also placed additional burden on the NHS.”

    August 19, 2017 Reply
  6. Roger Kirby Professor of Urology

    The GP workforce figures released yesterday mask the reality that there are almost 450 fewer qualified GPs working than in 2015, the BMA has warned.

    Headline workforce figures released by NHS Digital yesterday show that there were 350 fewer full-time equivalent GPs in June 2017 than in September 2015 – although there was a 0.9% increase from March to June this year.

    However, the BMA has said that this doesn’t tell the full story, because the figures now include trainee doctors – unlike the equivalent figures for secondary care.

    August 23, 2017 Reply

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