Foundation programme will have unfilled places in 2017

Authors: Abi Rimmer 

Publication date:  16 Feb 2017

The foundation training programme will be undersubscribed in 2017 and 63 posts will be cut in England, the UK Foundation Programme Office (UKFPO) has said.

The UKFPO said that when applications for the 2017 programme closed on Friday 14 October 2016, it had received 98 more applications than the number of places available. Using data on withdrawals from previous years, it predicted that the foundation training programme would be undersubscribed by 444 applicants at the point of allocation in March 2017.[1]

Before 2017, the foundation programme has been oversubscribed every year since 2011.[2] But, despite the oversubscription, every year all applicants have been placed.

Earlier this month the UKFPO released data which showed that half of those doctors who had successfully completed the foundation training programme chose not to go straight into specialty training in 2016.[3]

The number of students applying to medical school in the UK fell by 3.6% this year compared with 2016. Overall applications were down from 86 650 for the 2016 application cycle to 83 540 for the 2017 cycle.[4]

In its report on foundation programme undersubscription, the UKFPO said that the overall percentage of UK medical students applying to the UK foundation programme had reduced only slightly from 94.8% in 2015 to 94.1% in 2016. However, looking at the proportion of applicants who withdrew their applications in previous years, it predicted that 7% of applications would be withdrawn.

“When applying the 7% reduction to the foundation programme 2017 oversubscription figure, the data suggest there will be sufficient withdrawals to accommodate all applicants, with 444 vacancies,” the UKFPO said.

In previous years each devolved nation has managed its own vacancies, the UKFPO said. This year it will be running a UK-wide process to recruit fully registered doctors to the anticipated vacancies. The UKFPO will also be “looking to recruit doctors who hold or are eligible to apply for full registration with GMC to work in recognised training posts as part of the UK foundation programme.”

In addition to this, the UKFPO said that it had decided to cut 63 foundation training posts in England: “This is with a view to ensuring all applicants are placed during the primary list allocation based on previous withdrawal trends.”

It said that it would decide which posts should be removed based on weighted capitation, and the greatest proportion would be removed from London and the South East. “The devolved nations have confirmed there are no plans to remove posts from Northern Ireland, Scotland, or Wales,” the UKFPO said.


  1. Foundation Programme. Foundation programme 2017 undersubscription. 2017. [Link] .
  2. Rimmer A. Foundation programme oversubscribed for 2016. 2015. [Link] .
  3. Rimmer A. Half of foundation trainees now choose not to progress straight to specialty training. 2017. [Link] .
  4. Moberly T. Applications to study medicine fall. 2017. [Link] .

Abi Rimmer BMJ Careers

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