Hospital Dr News

Warning of funding cuts for specialist training

Financial pressures on the NHS are likely to hit funding for specialist training warns a report from the Centre for Workforce Intelligence (CfWI), the new national authority for workforce planning.

The report, the first from the Centre, makes recommendations on how many specialist trainees will be needed for the 2011 intake.

It identifies which medical specialties are at risk of over or under supply and highlights where trainees are unequally spread around the UK, outlining how training posts should be redistributed.

The CfWI suggests a small reduction of less than 1% of current places is needed. In a few specialties improved recruitment to training posts could result in higher numbers of doctors in specialty training in 2011.

But it warns that trusts needing to cut costs may be tempted to employ trust doctors. This would force trainees to achieve Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) via the Combined Entry Programme Specialist Register (CESR) route.

It also fears that if the Multi Professional Education and Training (MPET) levy is reduced, strategic health authorities and deans will want to modify the report’s recommendations.

A spokesman for the Royal College of Physicians said they too were concerned that the CfWI’s recommendations will not be matched by sufficient funding, either by hospital trusts in employing newly trained doctors or by deaneries funding the training places. “Without this financial support, the opportunities these recommendations give the NHS will be lost and patient care will suffer as a result.”

But he said the report was a big step in the right direction for medical workforce planning in England. The RCP was pleased that it supported the recommendations of Sir John Temple’s report on the effects of the European Working Time Directive on medical training.

“The CfWI recommendations for maintaining trainee numbers in the medical specialties will help the development of consultant delivered care which can only be a good thing for patient care. Furthermore the CfWI has taken a very considered view of the skewed distribution of trainees in some parts of the country by using ‘weighted capitation’. This imbalance of both trainees and consultants currently has a large adverse affect on patient services. Correction of these imbalances is crucial to providing a fair health service for all,” said the spokesman.

Bill McMillan, head of medical pay and workforce at NHS Employers, also welcomed the report. He said: “It is critical that the correct number of doctors are trained in the specialities and geographical areas where they are most needed to avoid the risk of either a shortage or significant over-supply, both of which can be expensive, demoralising for doctors and affect patient care.”

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