Hundreds of junior doctors offered hospital positions have had their job offers rescinded after a mistake was discovered in the recruitment process.
The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) said it would have to rerun the offers process, blaming human error and branding it a "dreadful situation".
Junior medics entering their third year of specialist training now face losing the positions they had originally been offered, with many having already made plans to start the jobs in just a few months' time.
We can't express how unacceptable we find this situation and the impact - both emotionally and financially - it is having on junior doctors across the UK. Support will be available on our phone lines from Tuesday morning, and we'll continue to update members wherever we can
-- The BMA (@TheBMA) May 5, 2018
The British Medical Association (BMA) said it was "appalled" to discover the blunder, and that it had caused "extreme anxiety" for trainees.
Those affected had been offered jobs in 24 different fields through ST3 Recruitment, a nationally co-ordinated system for recruiting doctors.
But last week the RCP discovered some candidates had been given the wrong interview marks following an error in transferring data from one computer program to another, leading to a "significant number" of incorrect rankings.
The RCP have written again to all candidates with further information about the re-running of the ST3 offers and the steps we are taking. The content of that message is on our website: https://t.co/A7HZpAni4C
-- ST3 Recruitment (@st3recruitment) May 5, 2018
In a letter to all those with offers, the RCP said: "We are deeply sorry that it has been necessary to rerun the ST3 offer process due to a mistake in this round of processing.
"We have taken this approach to be fair to all candidates which can only be achieved with the real scores used."
In a joint statement, the chairman of the BMA council Chaand Nagpaul, and the chairman of the BMA junior doctors committee Jeeves Wijesuriya, said they had spoken to RCP president Professor Jane Dacre to "articulate the strength of feeling and extent of the impact that this has had".
Our latest information on the ST3 offers process is here https://t.co/brdG5pG64g. We are deeply sorry and appreciate what a worrying time this is for candidates and will provide as much information as we can, when we can, whilst we work to fix this in the fairest way possible
-- The RCP (@RCPLondon) May 5, 2018
They said: "We have heard from trainees who have, after receiving these job offers, put down deposits on homes, arranged moves or whose families had adjusted their plans."
The statement added: "We cannot express how unacceptable we find this situation and the impact - both emotionally and financially - it is having on junior doctors across the UK."
The RCP said it would do its "utmost" to resolve the cases of those who had accepted offers and made "unretractable commitments" based on those offers.
"We set the highest standards for our work and expect to be held to them," it said.
"We have not met them here and are truly sorry. We will learn from our mistake and make any changes necessary to fix it."
The offers process will begin again on May 14.