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Where are the Least Competitive Specialty Programmes?

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Messly helps doctors make evidence-based decisions in their careers. Our focus for this week is helping you make the best decisions with regards to your speciality applications and helping you when you apply!

With speciality applications now open, this blog will be exploring the competitiveness of different regions at CT1 level, and how this has changed from last year. We hope this will help CT1 applicants determine which regions are likely to be oversubscribed this year and guide you on your applications.

Here are the results of our number crunching:

Note: Data is sourced and unamended from the Joint Royal Colleges of Physicians Training Board CT1 recruitment website ( The x-axis shows the competitiveness of each Deanery, calculated as the number of available posts divided by the number of first-round applicants. The most competitive Deaneries appear on the right of the axis, and the least competitive on the left. The y axis shows the competition ratio 2016 compared to competition ratio 2015. Deaneries with a score of more than 100% on the y-axis have increased competition ratio from 2015-16, whilst deaneries with a score of less than 100% have decreased in competitiveness.  The size of each bubble represents the number of posts available in core training in that deanery.

Key takeaways:

1) Some deaneries are MUCH less competitive than others, and are getting even easier


North East, East of England, West Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber and Kent, Surrey and Sussex are likely to be the easiest deaneries to get into for core training this year.

These have the lowest competition ratios (North East the lowest – with just 89 applicants per 100 posts), and based on their 2015 to 2016 trend are getting easier. The North East deanery’s competition ratio decreased by 40% from 2015, driven by large decrease in the number of applications from 2015 to 2016.


2) Be prepared to fight for spots in London, Scotland and Thames Valley


These deaneries are by far the most competitive deaneries to apply to for CT1. London is the most competitive, with 2.71 applicants per post, followed by Thames Valley and Scotland with 2.23 and 2.1 applicants per post. The number of applicants per post has remained fairly constant in the last 2 years.

3) This is only part of the picture – our Training Navigator will tell you more

These figures are blended for all specialties at CT1, and there will be variation between different specialities. Our Training Navigator will help you deep dive into the quality of training, overall satisfaction and workload at each of the rotations within these regions. These are the most comprehensive and up-to-date ratings for individual NHS hospital rotations, with five star ratings based on the results of the 2016 GMC National Training Survey.

This will round out your view of the experience you’re likely to get there. So, for example, it may be worth applying to more competitive regions if there are many outstanding rotations.

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