The ACT Health Directorate has refused to back down from controversial changes to the way medical internships are allocated at the Canberra Hospital.
Final-year Australian National University medical students have complained of feeling bullied after being told that they will no longer be guaranteed an intern year at the Canberra Hospital if they simultaneously apply for positions interstate.
Professor Frank Bowden, acting executive director of medical services at Canberra Hospital, said while he had sympathy for the students, it had been necessary to change the priority system.
Professor Bowden said several would-be interns had signed contracts to work at the hospital last year but pulled out at the last moment after being made late offers to work interstate.
''Last year was particularly troublesome because of the increase in numbers. We had to get everyone ready to go and we just did not know how many we had,'' he said.
Professor Bowden said this was unfair to people who missed out on places at the Canberra Hospital and then accepted an interstate offer, only to be told when it was too late that there was a position for them in the ACT.
''By the time we go back to the other people, they say, 'I'm sorry, I'm locked into another job'.''
ANU graduates who unsuccessfully applied to interstate hospitals would still have a chance of winning a place in Canberra.