Thursday, 29 March 2007

The web continues to be spun

This document has been sent to trainees in a certain part of the country. Have a read in full of the lies they have spun here. There are so many flaws in this long winded piece of hogwash that it may take a while, anyway here it goes:

"The old system was fairer and meant that the right candidates got the right job.
- Highly debatable"

Highly debatable? So restricting candidates to one application and having NO short listing is fairer? You'd need to be pretty handy at debating to argue that one.

2. "
The old system had more jobs - this is just cutting posts by another means.

Incorrect – the number of jobs in the NHS for junior doctors isn’t going to change. There will still be jobs for junior doctors who don’t get a training place."

I think we should hold you to that. They are saying there will be no unemployed doctors come August?

3. "
The online system has failed and is to be replaced

The Department of Health has set up an audit of the MTAS system to investigate concerns that will report on Monday. Initial findings are that the system is sound, applications have not been lost and that anecdotal reports of data loss and system failure have little, if any, substance."

My lord, these verbose morons are trying to persuade us that there was no data loss and no system failure! I think even Prof Field disagrees with this.

4. "
Aren't you testing doctors on skills they don't need - like writing - instead of their clinical skills?"

Their attempted justification of this is very weak indeed, almost Hewitt-esque; it was discussed with stakeholders blah blah. They still fail to address the point that writing creatively about something does not equate to being good at doing that something.

5. "
If the system is so shaky that you feel the need to test it now, how can you be confident it has worked?

Feedback to date is that interviewers have been impressed with the quality of candidates - there is no evidence to dispute that only applicants who meet the high standards required for appointment will be offered jobs."

It does not mean that the system has worked just because there have been some good candidates interviewed! There is a large amount of evidence that some of the best candidates got no interviews, hardly evidence of a solid system is it?

6. "
Don't you need to halt round one in order to guarantee fairness?

No – this would be unfair to candidates part way through the process. The BMA, Academy of medical Royal Colleges, NHS Employers and the four UK Health Departments have all agreed the process should continue."

What about the whole system being unfair to everyone, is that not a slight problem? I think they may find that the BMA walked out of the review panel too.

7. "
Are you going to have an independent review?

Yes – this is ongoing and will report by the end of March."

The review is not independent as has been pointed out by many involved.

8. "
Did Patricia Hewitt know a year ago that there was a crisis looming over this new online system?

The BMA JDC did call for a delay in the implementation of MMC, but the view of all four UK Health Departments was that deferment would not be helpful and would cause greater uncertainty for trainees (particularly those in the second Foundation year).......
The JDC has also been a key stakeholder in planning the recruitment process – and many of its suggestions were taken on board. Just before Christmas the JDC indicated its support for MTAS (need to find statement on this if possible). "

It is amusing how the BMA JDC walking out of the review panel has been ignored by this Q&A.

9. "
Isn't this just another government IT blunder? And how much has it cost the taxpayer?

No – despite the difficulties this year, MTAS will provide an auditable process which brings transparency to the appointment of junior doctors and will ultimately realise significant savings in bureaucracy for NHS employers. "

There is a significant amount of evidence of IT failures in MTAS, see Prof Field's email for evidence from a Dean involved. Where is the evidence to suggest that this unwieldy system will be of any benefit? Also I think Patricia Hewitt, when asked in parliament, didn't even know how much it actually cost; where is your answer to this?

10. "Have you lost 1300 application forms?

No – this is incorrect: there is no evidence of applications being lost by the MTAS system"

Actually there is, see Prof Fields's email admitting that 1300 applications were lost!

11. "
Will the whole process be put on hold while this is sorted out?

No - interviews for the first round are going ahead as planned. High quality applicants have been selected for interview. Only those who meet the high standards for selection will be appointed."

It should be put on hold. Indeed high quality applicants have been 'selected' for interview, but this is only because everyone is going to be interviewed; thus it would be hard to miss people! The lack of short listing and selection consisting of only one short interview opens up a huge potential for selecting the wrong candidates.

This Q&A is yet another insult to the junior doctors who are being forced to endure these months of torture. What will the consequences of this stress be on the hearts and minds of our junior doctors? I am not making this point in a blazee fashion, but it really is a serious concern. Medicine is a stressful job normally, but how much damage will be done in enduring these last few weeks of not knowing, of chaos and indecision, of umpteen changes to the system, of unfairness and corruption; while working hard in challenging jobs at the same time.

My heart goes out to anyone who is having to go through this cruel process. The web of propaganda being spun by the deaneries and members of the medical establishment are beneath contempt.