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What’s up, doc?

Last year's medical training fiasco was a failure of NHS centralisation. And the surge in the number of medical students, plus an open door for foreign doctors, means there will be a mismatch between applicants and jobs for years to come

By Alison Wolf   June 2008

On 1st March 2007, in a nondescript Birmingham committee room, a panel of consultant surgeons decided to break their employment contracts. In doing so, they guaranteed the front-page storm that government officials were hoping to avoid. Two weeks later, thousands of junior doctors noisily demonstrated in London demanding jobs and training. Patricia Hewitt, secretary of state for health, apologised to the doctors, was “supported” by her party—and then duly dumped that summer. So began one of the most profound and emblematic crises the NHS has suffered in its 60-year history.

What did the Birmingham surgeons do? They simply refused to…

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