Medical education and training in England is coming under threat from financial instability in the NHS, with possible consequences for patient care, the British Medical Association (BMA) has warned.
The BMA is concerned that NHS strategic health authorities are taking money from budgets previously set aside for education and training to meet deficits.
Targets for the cuts include funding for junior doctors’ study leave which allows them to attend courses required for their training, and academic posts in medical schools, which could result in doctors being made redundant.
In a letter to health secretary Patricia Hewitt, the BMA’s Junior Doctors Committee calls on funding for study leave to be restored, warning that patients will receive a lower standard of care if doctors do not have access to the training that the budget funds.
Dr Jo Hilborne, chairman of the committee, said: “Cutting education and training as a ‘quick fix’ to the financial problems facing the NHS is both demoralising to staff and extremely risky. If doctors cannot go on courses essential to their training there could be consequences for patient care – not just in the future but right now.”