Intended for healthcare professionals


Half of foundation trainees now choose not to progress straight to specialty training

BMJ 2017; 356 doi: (Published 09 February 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;356:j592
  1. Abi Rimmer
  1. BMJ Careers

Half of those doctors who have successfully completed the foundation training programme chose not to go straight into specialty training in 2016.

The UK Foundation Programme Office carried out a survey of the career destinations of foundation year 2 (FY2) doctors who did their foundation training in August 2016.1 The UKFPO’s survey found that 50.4% of those who responded planned to go directly into specialty training.

The number of successful FY2s progressing directly into specialty training has fallen year-on-year since 2011: from 71.6% in 2011, 67% in 2012, 64.4% in 2013, 58.5% in 2014, 52% in 2015, to 50.4% in 2016.

Although fewer doctors are progressing directly from foundation training to specialty training, they are continuing to apply for specialty training, even if they take a year or more break before doing so. In fact there are still more doctors applying for posts than there are positions available in the first year of specialty training and, in 2015, 12 033 doctors applied for the 8545 posts available (fig 1).


Fig 1 Where trainees went after completing foundation training in 2016

Of the FY2s not entering specialty training in 2016, 13.1% said that they were taking a career break and not practising medicine, the same proportion as in 2015.

Compared with 2015, a smaller proportion said that they were taking up a service appointment in the UK (8.3% said they were doing so, compared with 9.2% in 2015). But, compared with 2015, a greater proportion said that they had taken an appointment outside the UK (7.8% in 2015 compared with 6.1% in 2016).

The number of doctors who were still seeking employment in the UK—but not a place on the specialty training programme—after completing the foundation programme fell from 8.6% in 2015 to 5.9% in 2016. Between 2011 and 2015, this proportion had been increasing.

The UKFPO also said that general practice fill rates had increased across England and Wales in 2016, compared with the previous year, from 89% to 90%, and from 87% to 96%, respectively. However, the fill rates for general practice across Northern Ireland had decreased from 100% in 2015 to 99% in 2016.


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