Fears for hospital services; HEALTH: Warning of shake-up hitting surgery.
PATIENTS at Midland hospitals could get "nothing more than a basic service" this week as a result of a shake-up in medical training and computer failure.
It is because thousands of junior doctors across the country will take up new posts on Wednesday, a move which has led hospitals to postpone elective surgery.
The Government's medical training reforms have attracted huge controversy due to the failed on-line system - Medical Training Application Service - for recruiting junior doctors to specialist training posts.
That meant thousands of doctors were left in limbo for months, with many promising juniors not being shortlisted for interviews. Staff at one Birmingham hospital trust have been warned the number of anaesthetists has fallen by 30 per cent, as a result of the reforms.
And appointments at consultant-led clinics have even been reduced, as registrars are offered jobs as far away as Scotland leaving vacancies which are proving difficult to fill.
The move, set to affect doctors across the Midlands, is part of the Government's Modernising Medical Careers scheme.
Dr Fay Wilson, secretary of the BMA's Birmingham branch, said many junior doctors had contacted her over their worries about MMC.
"A lot of them are due to finish work on Tuesday but have no jobs to go to and yet their trusts still have vacancies unfilled, unfortunately you can't just slide doctors sideways into any speciality, they have to fit," she said.
"But because of a computer failure they are not in the right places to match the remaining vacancies.
"While junior posts in GP training and radiology are 95 per cent full, one in four places on obstetrics, gynaecology and anaesthetists programmes have yet to be filled. My fear is other staff will have to take the brunt and trusts will be trying to minimise any non-emergency work, elective surgeries, in fact offering nothing other than a basic service."
A spokeswoman for NHS West Midlands, the strategic health authority, said: "Based on information we've received so far, we are confident that there will be no significant disruption to NHS services."