Monday, 26 February 2007

The shambolic disgrace of MTAS

This year has been the first year that all junior doctors have been blessed with the opportunity to apply for their specialist training posts via MTAS (Medical Training Application Service). I use the word 'blessed' to intimate how those in power see things working.

Junior doctors do not see things like this. The application process has been a disorganised shambles. From the very start there were hundreds of problems with; the application forms, the website crashing, the vague questions asked, the help desk not answering valid questions, the submission of applications not working, chunks of applications going missing, job descriptions changing after applications had been submitted, job numbers changing after applications had been submitted, not forgetting the poor souls who missed the application deadline, as well as countless other problems. The most glaring problem was the fact that the server crashed day in day out, thus losing people's applications, and then when the closing date came: the server ran at the speed of a dead tortoise while crashing every few minutes.

The problems didn't stop there. Hundreds of consultants have had to shortlist applicants for interviews based on their answers to vague politically correct waffle. Over 75% of the 'marks' are given for these vague questions, while achievements like exams and work experience are pretty much ignored. This has infuriated consultants who have the impossible job of choosing the best candidates when they effectively have their hands tied behind their backs. Add the appalling lack of meritocracy to the fact that there simply has not been enough time to mark all these applications and complete the shortlisting before the allotted deadline.

This has meant that the deadline has been pushed back to 9am today on the 26th of February. Today it should have been possible for all juniors who had applied to check their applications, see if they had an interview, book the interview and organise the time off work.

Inevitably the theory that MTAS is run by a small band of management consultant monkeys has been substantially strengthened after the events of today. Over half the deaneries have not had time to complete their shortlisting and there are yet again numerous problems with the MTAS website. This practically means that junior doctors are being stressed out beyond belief as they don't know if they have interviews and they don't know if they have to book time off work for an interview (in some cases the interviews are in two days time!) . Dr Rant has a rather good piece on MMC/MTAS et al.

MTAS is symptomatic of this government's gross incompetence, which is revealed by repeated attempts to centralise everything in the naive belief that grand centralised schemes are always better than the systems they are replacing. Junior doctors have not only been shafted by this government's reforms of medical training and the destruction of a healthcare system that can support training in a sustainable manner; they are now been royally rogered by an application system that is nowhere near being fit for purpose. No wonder juniors are emigrating in droves; the true cost of this government's policies will not become fully apparent for years but when they do become apparent, the faeces will emphatically hit the fan.

I'm off to buy my sledge hammer.

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