United Kingdom
BMA calls for delay to MTAS recruitment system
Feb 27, 2007 - 12:24:37 PM

An estimated 30,000 junior doctors have applied for around 22,000 new UK specialist training posts under the ‘Modernising Medical Careers’ scheme. Last year, the BMA warned that the government was rushing through the reforms in too short a timescale.

The BMA is concerned that the system is potentially open to corruption following reports that staff without the necessarily qualifications were invited to shortlist applicants, and that shortlisters were able to alter candidates’ scores.

The computerised system for applying to posts has been blighted by technical problems, leaving applicants unsure of their future careers. As a result of repeated delays and the website crashing, the deadline for applications had to be extended twice at the start of February. The large number of applications, tight timescale, and a lack of guidance left senior doctors struggling to complete the shortlisting process, which was scheduled to finish by the weekend but is still continuing in some areas.

As a result, many doctors who were expecting to be notified of an interview on Saturday are still waiting. The recruitment process is scheduled to begin tomorrow, leaving them with only hours to arrange an interview. Others have been offered interviews for posts in the wrong speciality, at levels for which they are not qualified, or which clash.

The BMA’s Junior Doctors Committee has written to Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt urging her to delay the interview process until the government can prove that all shortlisting has been consistent and fair.

Dr Jo Hilborne, chairman of the BMA Junior Doctors Committee, says:

“The future careers of thousands of doctors are at stake. The government has tried to rush through these reforms in a completely unworkable timescale and now we are seeing the consequences. Doctors have lost what little confidence they ever had with the new system. They’re feeling confused and increasingly angry.

“If any doctor has been disadvantaged because of any of these problems, the BMA will fight for their right to fair treatment. It’s time for the government to take responsibility.”

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