This site is intended for health professionals only

85 medical students have placements downgraded after foundation programme fiasco

Eighty-five medical students have had their foundation programme places changed following the marking foul-up announced by the UK Foundation Programme Office (UKFPO) last month.

The office revealed that 148 students have had their allocations changed in total following a nail-biting 12-day wait to find out about their futures. Eight applicants who were told that they had secured places on a foundation programme have been shunted onto a reserve list while 77 others have been re-allocated to a school lower down on their list of preferences.

A further 71 applicants have been allocated to a higher preference school however, while 11 applicants who were previously on the reserve list have now been allocated to a school.

In total, 7,535 applicants learned their final allocation result today (Friday), and for 98% the result stayed the same.

The UKFPO had originally announced the allocations at the end of February but decided to review the papers because of problems in scanning answers to the Situational Judgement Test (SJT).

Most, if not all of the applicants moved to the reserve list will be allocated places in the first reserve list allocation on April 30, said UKFPO national director Professor Derek Gallen.

He added: ‘I would like to once again apologise unreservedly for the SJT scanning issue and the fact that it was only brought to our attention after the original allocations took place. I have not underestimated the anxiety this may have caused applicants over the last 12 days. I want to reassure applicants that the delay caused by the re-running of the algorithm will not impact on doctors starting their jobs in August, so hospital rotas and subsequently patient safety will not be affected.’

An independent review of the process will be carried out, said Professor Gallen.

William Seligman, co-chair of the BMA’s medical students committee, said: ‘It is unacceptable that 148 medical students have had their first job as a junior doctor suddenly changed because of a chaotic failure in this year’s application process. The BMA is especially concerned about the eight students who have been informed that they no longer have a job offer despite being told originally that they had a placement to go on. These students might now have to wait until the summer before finding out where they will be working.’

The BMA will write to health secretary Jeremy Hunt to express its concern about the issue, Mr Seligman added.