HCSA warns of vital specialist skills being lost as hundreds of anaesthetists face job losses this summer

HCSA - the hospital doctors' union has said the move to drop almost 700 anaesthetists from the NHS training scheme is 'risky and illogical'.

The anaesthetists, who have already completed four years of specialist training, are facing the prospect of looking other roles in NHS hospitals due to a shortage of spaces. 

Dr Claudia Paoloni, President of HCSA and a consultant anaesthetist, said this move 'risks their vital skills slipping through our fingers'

"While this has been an exceptional year in so many ways, the inability of hundreds of aspiring anaesthetists to secure a training place cannot pass without criticism," Dr Paoloni said. 

“We have a significant shortage of senior anaesthetists which has been cruelly exposed at times during this pandemic. The skills acquired in anaesthetic training have a crucial transferability across all emergency and urgent care specialities.

“We should be grabbing the opportunity to bring more through training with both hands. Instead, we hear that in some parts of the UK ST3 places were restricted to single figures. This is just illogical.

“The Royal College of Anaesthetists has rightly issued a call for more funding for training places. In six months there will be another opportunity to make amends before curriculum changes place yet another barrier in front of those seeking to progress to ST3 grade.

“Policy-makers and employers need to get their act together to offer more places in February and ensure that the current bottleneck does not become a long-running sore which will mean we risk the anaesthetists of the future, and their vital skills, slipping through our fingers.”

Approximately 300 higher training or ST3 places for anaesthetists are offered annually but this year there are more than 1000 applicants. 

Some 1056 doctors applied for the anaesthetists posts but there were only 359 available so 697 were not successful.