Medical Training Application Service

Question Time — Scottish Executive — Health and Community Care – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 15th March 2007.

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. Bill Aitken (Glasgow) (Con): To ask the Scottish Executive what action it is taking to address doctors' concerns regarding modernising medical careers and the medical training application service. (S2O-12347)

Photo of Andy Kerr Andy Kerr Labour

I am aware of concerns about modernising medical careers and the medical training application service across the United Kingdom, but we need to keep a sense of proportion from our perspective in Scotland. Delivery of MMC in Scotland remains on track, thanks to the hard work of all those who are involved. We continue to work closely with the British Medical Association, the medical royal colleges in Scotland and national health service boards to manage the process. I am advised by senior clinicians who are involved that round 1 selection is going well and that we continue to enjoy their support in delivering the improvements to postgraduate medical education.

Medicine is a highly competitive profession and the recruitment process is rightly competitive, too. MMC provides doctors with an open, objective, transparent and competence-based approach to selection and recruitment that meets best practice standards. Doctors who have been unsuccessful and who have not been short-listed in the first round will be offered appropriate advice and expertise to help with future career planning for round 2. I encourage them to take advantage of that. Inevitably, not every applicant will be offered a specialty training post, but that is no change. In addition, we are participating in the UK-wide review that is being undertaken by the four health departments and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, which will be completed by the end of March, to allow for any necessary changes to be made ahead of round 2 in late April.

I apologise for the length of that answer, but the question was detailed.

Photo of Bill Aitken Bill Aitken Conservative

I accept that there has been movement on the issue since my question was lodged. Will the minister confirm the extent to which the Scottish Executive will have input into the review that he mentioned? Does he plan to attend the rally of junior doctors in Glasgow this weekend to speak to them so that confidence in the recruitment process can be restored?

Photo of Andy Kerr Andy Kerr Labour

I have been involved with the royal colleges and junior doctors and have had many meetings with the chief medical officer to seek to reassure doctors. In Scotland, we have managed the process of modernising medical careers professionally and our systems are working well. The member does not need to take my word for that; he can take the word of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow and the Royal College of General Practitioners. I accept that we are suffering to a degree from matters elsewhere in the UK but, nonetheless, in Scotland we are handling the process well. We can always improve, which is why we will play a substantial role in the review. Nonetheless, I want to reassure the member and junior doctors that the process is working well in Scotland.

Photo of Euan Robson Euan Robson Liberal Democrat

The minister may be aware that concerns have been expressed about doctors from other parts of the UK in effect flooding the application process in Scotland. I appreciate that those concerns are based simply on press reports, but has he talked to counterparts in other parts of the UK to be sure that there is an even process throughout the UK and that we do not have distortions in parts of the UK?

Photo of Andy Kerr Andy Kerr Labour

It has always been the case in medical education and training that people move round the country. We train many doctors in Scotland who work elsewhere in the UK and, likewise, many doctors who trained elsewhere in the UK come to work in Scotland. We are confident not only that we can manage the process well in Scotland, but that we can, through the process, retain those much-needed skills in Scotland, which is what I want. We need to keep our eye on the issue that the member raises, but the evidence to date suggests that Scotland is doing well on ensuring that we recruit and train medical practitioners in Scotland in a way that keeps them in the national health service in Scotland, which of course is good for patients and the NHS in Scotland.

Photo of George Reid George Reid None

Question 2 was not lodged.