Exam error prompts doctor job recall

27 February 2013 Last updated at 11:04 ET

Junior doctorMedical students are having to wait to find out the location of their first job

Thousands of medical students face having their first hospital job offer withdrawn due to marking errors in their exams.

On Monday more than 7,000 final year students were told the region they were assigned to as junior doctors.

However, a day later the examining body, the UK Foundation Programme Office (UKFPO), withdrew all offers due to flaws in the scoring system.

The British Medical Association says the situation is “unacceptable”.

The UKFPO announced on Tuesday that it had discovered “a potential error in the scanning process of the situational judgement test” and promised to manually re-mark all the affected sheets within a week. The test is a multiple-choice exam used to test judgement in clinical scenarios.

Combined with other exams, this test helps determine the geographical region students will work in for the duration of their foundation programme – a two-year training course which forms the bridge between medical school and training for a specialism. They then choose their preferred hospitals in this region.

A large number of medical students have contacted the BBC saying their initial elation of being offered their preferred job location has turned to anxiety.

‘Extremely distressing’

Jonathan Ford, a final year medical student at Leicester, said: “My dad cried when I told him I had got my first choice – he was so proud. But now I don’t know what will happen.

“It is extremely distressing and stressful – and couldn’t come at a worst time – many of us are facing our final exams in the next two weeks.”

Alice Rutter, the co-chair of the BMA medical students committee, said: “This is totally unacceptable. We view this problem very seriously indeed and will be taking action to ensure students who are affected are kept updated and supported.”

Dr Katie Petty-Saphon, executive director of the Medical Schools Council, who commissioned the suppliers who introduced the errors apologised. She said: “I do understand how upsetting and frustrating it must be to be told you have a particular position one day and then to be warned the next that this might not be the case.

“We shall provide the results as soon as we are completely confident that we have done all we can to ensure their accuracy.”

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