Wednesday, 18 April 2007

MTAS dynamite

This has found its way into my pigeon hole and has been posted around a large number of Human Resources departments today:

"Dear Colleague

The purpose of this e-mail is to seek your assistance in the delivery of the very challenging timescales that have now been agreed by the NHS Management Board - based on recommendations from the MMC Review Group - for Round 1B of the 2007 Recruitment and Selection Round for Specialist Training.

I enclose for your information a letter from ****** (****** - NHS employers) - which has been issued to all Chief Executives, HR Directors and Medical Directors of NHS Trusts - which sets out the principles to be applied for all applicants (shortlisted/non-shortlisted) to Specialist Training. In effect, this offers all applicants an interview for their first preference application, with the opportunity to revise/reaffrim first preference between 20 -23 April 2007.

A constituent element of Round 1B - set out in a letter to SHAs - is a requirement for all applicants to be longlisted. This presents a considerable challenge for the Workforce Deanery with a decision early in Round 1 A - in the interests of applicants (with issues on MTAS functionality) - to progress all applicants to the shortlisting stage. The SHA continues to put forward the case that only first preference applicants should be longlisted (c1,700 applications) but a worst case scenario of c7,600 applications to be longlisted is now being actively planned for. This presents considerable logisitical challenges for the Workforce Deanery and I am seeking your assistance in the release of designated NHS staff to assist with the longlisting exercise.

The high level indicative timetable for Round1B is enclosed for your information. The longlisting exercise is to be completed by the 17 April 2007. Initial modelling work - based on 7,600 applications - has shown a requirement for c270 longlisters for the duration of the longlisting exercise. With account taken of available Workforce Deanery staff, this reduces to c220 longlisters. On the basis of 5 available days, it is anticipated that around 45 additional staff will be required per day. We are seeking nominations from your NHS Trust to assist in this exercise - relevant knowledge/experience will be a pre-requisite and we believe the following staff groups meet these requirements:

Medical staffing Managers
Medical Staffing Officers
HR Managers
Post-Graduate Centre Managers
This is not intended to be an exhaustive list - it is offered as a guide only (in terms of knowledge base). All offers of help will be seriously considered.

A standard proforma is enclosed (Proforma A) - I should be grateful if you could complete for your NHS organisation on the basis of staff who may be released to assist in the longlisting exercise. Separate entries will be required for each day that longlisting is to take place - this includes the option of Saturday/Sunday working for potential additional capacity if required. The completed proforma should be submitted to ************* at:


The locations for the longlisting exercise are still being finalised. 'Remote working' is under active consideration with I.T. facilities being sought in each of the former SHAs (**** and the ****, **** and **** and ****) - it is anticipated that this will assist with the release of NHS staff and ease the burden of travel. If you have any suitable facilities, please complete the enclosed proforma (Profroam B) to advise on availability - details of minimum facilities requirements are as stated on the proforma.

My apologies for the timelines involved but I would be grateful if you could return the completed proformas by midday on Tuesday, 10 April 2007.

A separate data collection exercise is being arranged for the release of clinical staff - this will be dependent on the dates identified for each specialty/level which it is anticipated will be confirmed early next week.

Thank you in advance for any assistance you are able to offer - I am sure you appreciate the importance of the 2007 Recruitment and Selction exercise to ensure that all Specialty Training posts are filled with high quality applicants by 1 August 2007.

Yours sincerely

A*** *****

Deputy Head - Business Management "

High Level Indicative Timetable




Deaneries review eligibility of all applicants (long-listing)

6 April

17 April

Load FTSTAs ‘held-back’ and any new posts on MTAS

4 April

13 April

Set up interview slots – initial pass, based on existing first choices

9 April

20 April

Notify Applicants: Preferences can be confirmed

20 April

Applicants confirm preferences

20 April

23 April

Refine interview slots, based on confirmed first choices

25 April

27 April

Notify Applicants: Interviews can be booked

28 April

Applicants book interviews on MTAS

28 April

3 May

Interviews conducted

8 May

1 June

Finalise entry of interview scores and outcomes on MTAS

4 June

Run allocation (assign applicant to UoA, specialty & level)

5 June

6 June

Deaneries confirm results from the allocation process

7 June

7 June

Notify Applicants: Allocation details available

8 June

Applicants accept allocation & enter programme preferences

8 June

12 June

Match applicant to a specific programme

13 June

15 June

Notify Applicants: Programme match details available

16 June

Applicants accept specific programme offers

16 June

18 June

Handover HR information to Employers to start pre-employment checks

18 June

19 June

Doctors contracts start

1 August

There are several amazing revelations from this long winded document.

Firstly a contingency plan is clearly being prepared which would result in all candidates being interviewed for all of their four applications, this is made clear in the third paragraph. Whether this is because the DoH is running scared as a result of remedy's legal challenge remains to be seen.

Secondly it is admitted in the second paragraph that all candidates are being fast tracked to short listing, which effectively means that there is no long listing at all.

Thirdly if you read through the final timetable then it soon becomes pretty obvious that there is to be no round 2.

MTAS is evidently crumbling before our very eyes, yet some rather powerful people up top want to see it through, no matter the cost and no matter the unfairness of the situation.

There is no way in the world that a process with no long listing, no short listing, one round only and only short thirty minute interviews can reliably select the best candidates for the available speciality training jobs. Consequently the process is shabby and completely unacceptable.

My personal opinion is that no long term training jobs should be handed out this year, only year long jobs should be handed out for now, and time should be allowed for the dust to settle; then another farce can be averted in a year and a bit's time, and something at least vaguely meritocratic can be cobbled together.

What has happened this year is now beyond a disgrace.


Anonymous said...

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Concise sentences and articles pack a punch. The nature of a blog makes it very difficult to present things as paragraphs or bullet points - you need to slim things down for us - people are lazy and they will just not bother to get to the nitty-gritty.

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