Final-year medical students face delay to job offers

Students say UK Foundation Programme Office hold-up is a blow at a time when morale is already low due to junior doctor contracts row

A medical student at work in a laboratory
A medical student at work in a laboratory. Photograph: Matt Lincoln/Getty Images/Cultura

Thousands of final-year medical students have been left with no idea where they will begin work after the body responsible for making job offers took a last-minute decision not to publish the results of their applications on Thursday.

Students due to hear news of where they were starting their first jobs expressed anger and frustration after the examining body admitted it would not be publishing the details on time.

The students say the UK Foundation Programme Office compounded their anxiety by not informing them directly about the delay. Many discovered the delay on Wednesday night when they checked via the application process.

It is not the first time the UKFPO has been embroiled in a row over its allocation process. In 2013 it had to contact hundreds of students who had been allocated jobs as junior doctors to rescind the offers because of apparent marking mistakes.

In an email to the UKFPO, Harrison Carter, co-chair of the medical students committee of the British Medical Association, said he was disappointed by the delay.

He wrote: “I received a large amount of correspondence about this issue from final-year students who expressed dismay and frustration. At a time of extremely low morale and increasing disillusionment and disenfranchisement, this is a further blow to the future of our medical workforce.”

He said the estimated 7,000 final-year medical students were now “anxious and concerned” about the reasons behind the decision.

There has been concern over the number of medical students applying for jobs following the imposition of the much-criticised junior doctors’ contract and the ongoing dispute between doctors and the government.

Final-year students say poor communication by the UKFPO has added to the confusion and anxiety.

At one point the UKFPO erroneously posted a message on its website saying the delay would be eight days. The UKFPO has now said there will be a “slight delay” in the allocation.

David Carroll, a medical student at Queen’s University, Belfast, said: “It’s a big blow at a time when morale is already low, due to the junior doctor contracts. We were told back in October that today was the day we would find out what area of the country we would be working and the results of our exams.”

Carroll said he had found out via Twitter on Wednesday night after someone happened to log on to the UKFPO website, and had not received an email informing him directly.

“Someone logged on and found out they had extended the deadline by eight days. Now they are saying there is a slight delay. We’ve been waiting for months for this moment. It’s like another kick in the teeth,” he said.

A post on the UKFPO’s Facebook page announcing the delay attracted many comments from medical students seeking clarification. The statement, which apologised for the “disruption and inconvenience”, said: “The UKFPO regret to announce that there has been a slight delay to the release of the national allocation for the 2016 Foundation Programme. We are working on the issues identified in order to resolve the matter as soon as possible. The UKFPO will provide a further update at midday today.”

A spokeswoman for Health Education England, through which job offers are made by the UKFPO in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, said: “Health Education England (HEE) have been informed that during the final checking of offers an error was discovered. The UKFPO have therefore postponed the process until this error is fixed and we have asked that information is made available to applicants as soon as possible about when offers will be made. We apologise for this short delay and but we are sure all will agree it is better to get this right first time.”

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 [Source:- Thr Gurdian]

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