Tuesday, 3 April 2007

RCS President not hopeful for the MTAS beast

This is a recent email sent out by the President of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, Bruno Ribiero:

"I have attempted over recent weeks to keep you fully informed and up to
date as discussions have proceeded about the debacle caused by the MTAS
arrangements and the steps that have been taken by the review group with
a view to resolving this.

This is a very complex issue. It has been clear from the outset that
the arrangements have broadly served general practice well while the
position with hospital medicine has been much less satisfactory. Across
various specialties and in some deaneries, there has been recognition
that good candidates have been selected for, and performed well in,
interviews. Elsewhere, however, it has been clear that well qualified
and experienced candidates have not been identified. The prevailing
view in surgery is that the arrangements are seriously flawed. Our
survey of Fellows and Members, with about 80% of respondents considering
MTAS so fundamentally flawed that it is incapable of continued operation
and should be abandoned for 2007 with a return to the deanery
appointment processes that were in place last year, was a significant
indicator. The recent ASIT meeting in Belfast, where I could gauge the
views of a significant number of trainees, reconfirmed this widespread
dissatisfaction. There was some feeling that an extension of choice to
applicants, to be interviewed for two or more of their MTAS selections,
would improve matters but there remain grave logistical concerns that
this is impractical. The Scottish Executive announced on 30 March 2007
that "eligible junior doctors applying for specialty training jobs will
be offered interviews for all posts applied to in Scotland". It has
been particularly unhelpful that a lack of coherent and consistent
thinking amongst ministers and officials in Edinburgh, Cardiff and
London has led to an utterly inequitable situation where trainees in
parts of the United Kingdom appear to have been offered multiple
interviews against their preferred choices while others will not, or
cannot, be treated on a similar basis.

There will be a further meeting of the review group tomorrow and I will
attend once more to outline my grave concerns about the general
situation and these recent developments and to assess whether there is
any prospect of finding a satisfactory solution. I have to say that I
am not optimistic and I assure you that I will dissociate myself from
these negotiations if I see no recognition of the gravity of the
situation generally, and particularly for surgery. There must be
adequate transitional arrangements put in place to support those able
trainees who fail to be appointed at this stage. I will not see a
generation of highly qualified, experienced and committed surgical
trainees exposed to the vagaries of an untested and clearly flawed
system, effectively participating in a professional lottery.

I will write to all of you again following this meeting tomorrow.
Having acted until now in what I believe to have been the best
interests of everyone, given the range of opinions I have heard and the
practical constraints of which I have been conscious, I am not prepared
to leave you, and those who share your concerns, in further uncertainty.
If there is no significant and expeditious move tomorrow towards a
satisfactory solution, I and my colleagues on Council will seek,
independently if necessary, a resolution of this situation that meets
now your reasonable expectations and ensures for the longer term our
patients' absolute right to the safest and highest-quality care.

Bernard Ribeiro CBE

If this well informed man is 'not optimistic' of finding a 'satisfactory solution', then what hope do trainees have of a fair and satisfactory outcome?

Not much it would appear, unless the obstinate fools in the review panel stop living in denial and scrap this god forsaken scheme.

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