As the row over junior doctors continues, new figures indicate that training is becoming a massive issue in the health service.
According to official figures, nearly half of junior doctors in the NHS are dropping out of their study before qualifying to be a doctor.
Only 52 per cent of junior doctors who finished the two-year foundation training after medical school chose to stay in the NHS and work towards becoming a GP or specialist this year.
This represents the lowest proportion in the history of the National Health Service, and a rapid decline over the last few years.
Just four years ago, in 2011, the same figure was as high as 71.3 per cent.
The figures are indicative of the large number of junior doctors who are leaving the NHS, and instead opting to take up posts in academia.
It is reasonable to assume that the recent contractual disputes between junior doctors and the government have contributed to this phenomenon.
And if a satisfactory resolution isn’t found in due course, these figures could decline still further next year.
The extra pressure on NHS staff created by the growing demand for patient care and an increasing trend towards gap years are also cited as possible motivations behind this observable trends.
Commenting on the issue, Dr Johann Malawana, chair of the British Medical Association’s junior doctors committee, struck a note of concern.
“To see such a large number of doctors leave the NHS in such early stages of their careers is incredibly worrying, and can only worsen the recruitment crisis we are already seeing in many parts of our NHS, such as A&E,” Malawana opined.
“The government must focus on ensuring we have the valued and motivated workforce needed to meet rising demand across the country, as to lose any more doctors in the early stages of their careers would be a disaster for the NHS,” Malawana continued.
The figures relating to junior doctors are based on a survey of over 7,000 young medics who completed their two years of foundation training following the completion of a medical degree.
To put the seriousness of this issue into context, each junior doctor will have cost the public purse £250,000 to train.
The data was acquired by the Foundation Programme; a joint operation between Health Education England and the health departments in four countries.
Reflecting on the disturbing trend of junior doctors dropping out of the NHS, Heidi Alexander, the Labour MP who acts as the Shadow Health Secretary, commented that the statistics are significant.
“These worrying figures are another sign of how demoralised junior doctors have become under the Tories. The government’s handling of the contract negotiations with junior doctors has been a lesson in precisely how not to do it. The fact that so many are now turning their their backs on a career in the NHS is an appalling reflection on how unvalued the profession feels.”