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Specialised Foundation Programme (SFP) in Scotland – an update

Specialised Foundation Programme (SFP) in Scotland – an update

We are writing to update you on SFP recruitment arrangements in Scotland.

In Wales, SFP moved into the main Foundation allocation in 2022, with no separate recruitment process. England and Northern Ireland have decided that SFP recruitment will also move into the main Foundation allocation for posts starting in 2025. In Scotland, SFP will also move into the main Foundation allocation for F1 posts starting in 2025. The existing SFP placements will continue.

There are a number of drivers for this change.

  • There have been concerns raised across the UK regarding the equitability and fairness of some of the selection and recruitment processes.
  • The resource requirements for a stand-alone recruitment process for a small percentage of the total applicant pool are considerable and would be challenging to deliver were the applicant numbers to continue to rise at their current rate.
  • Co-locating SFP within the main allocation will now allow an applicant from the main allocation to be linked with an SFP applicant. This is currently not possible, and so this change will help applicants who wish linking.
  • The SFP approach in Wales has been strongly positive. It has not prevented doctors to pursue leadership or academic interests and has also allowed those applicants who might not have otherwise been able to experience academic or other extracurricular activity to do so.
  • Looking further ahead, the planned Foundation expansion in Scotland (and across the wider UK) has already started, and we are in discussion with a range of stakeholders to use the expansion as an opportunity to strategically plan to improve the foundation experience for all trainees, such that more can access a wider range of developmental opportunities than those that are currently limited to the ~5% of Foundation doctors undertaking a SFP.

We recognise that there will be a range of views on this decision. We want to assure you that the Medical Directorate is strongly committed to working with the academic sector and wider community to explore and address concerns around the academic medicine workforce in Scotland.  To that end, we have recently appointed two senior clinical academics as Associate Postgraduate Deans (Academic Training) (Professor Lindsey Pope and Dr Samira Bell) who will work across the sector to enhance our collective approach to research and education tracks. We also wish to warmly thank and acknowledge all those who support and enhance the wider SFP and Foundation training in Scotland.

With kind regards

Professor Emma Watson                 Professor Alan Denison

Executive Medical Director                 Postgraduate Dean and Foundation Lead Dean Director

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