Sufficient funding must be put in place if the NHS is to redress current imbalances in the number of specialist medical trainees working in different areas of England, according to the Royal College of Physicians.
Dr Andrew Goddard, director of the Medical Workforce Unit at the Royal College broadly welcomed the findings of a new report by the Centre for Workforce Intelligence, which recommended redistributing training posts across the country.
The study entitled ‘Recommendation for Medical Speciality Training 2011’ also called for the NHS to boost the “attractiveness” of certain specialist medical fields in order to avoid potential skills shortfalls in some areas and to address oversupply in others.
But Goddard warned that, without financial support, the opportunity presented by the study could be lost, while patient care could suffer. “Our chief concern is that the recommendations made by this report will not be matched by sufficient funding, either by hospital trusts in employing newly trained doctors or by deaneries who fund the training places,” he said.
NHS Employers likewise welcomed the report. Bill McMillan, head of medical pay and workforce at the union, said that efficient workforce planning was crucial to ensure that an appropriate number of doctors were trained in the specialities and geographical areas where they were most needed and the new report could help inform decision-making.
But he added: “NHS Employers believes that it is also important that employers are able to influence the number and geographical location of trainees to make sure that the balance between training and service is appropriate as doctors progress through their training programmes.”
This was because shifts in the numbers of trainees at each level of training could have a profound impact on service delivery and the cost of that service. “This impact may well extend beyond the medical workforce and encompass reconfigurations of service and different ways of delivering services. NHS Employers believes that NHS organisations are best placed to influence these aspects of the discussions and planning,” McMillan said.