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Funded by the NIHR School for Primary Care Research, the study concluded that fewer doctors are training in acute hospital specialty areas since hearing of the decision to implement the Junior Doctors' Contract

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Manchester’s Division of Population Health and Economics and supported by staff at the UK Foundation Programme.

The voluntary online survey was completed by 816 doctors who were at a pivotal point where they could apply for a specialty training (ST) programme leading to their preferred future career. They were asked if their career decision had been affected by recent uncertainties and proposed changes in contracts for junior doctors. On completion of 2 years of Foundation Programme training, doctors can progress directly to a specialty training programme, switch to a different ST programme, defer decision or entry to an ST programme, or quit medical work.

Among the 819 survey respondents, those who chose to switch specialty training because of contract-related issues were less likely apply for hospital work (16.5%)  and more likely to apply for community-based posts (30.1%) - mostly general practice.

Lead Prinicipal Investigator Dr Sharon Spooner, from the University of Manchester, says many doctors do not go on to take specialty training posts immediately after they have completed their five year degree and two year Foundation Programme training. “From 2011 to 2015, the proportion of doctors not proceeding directly from Foundation training to specialist training increased from 29% to 48%."

“Our survey shows that many newly qualified doctors have altered their career plans as a result of the contract. Doctors are aware that their skills have global value, and some are prepared to change their personal and career plans to achieve their goals: many go abroad, and some leave medical work entirely.”

Publication: 

‘Stick or twist? Career decision-making during contractual uncertainty for NHS junior doctors’. BMJ Open. S Spooner, Jon Gibson, Dan Rigby, Matt Sutton, Emma Pearson, Kath Checkland  - all From The University of Manchester

Read the full press release from the University of Manchester here.