Saturday, 5 May 2007
MTAS - Sarah Thomas must resign
This was an E-mail sent from John Black - the chair of the SAC in general surgery, to Sarah Brown in February 2006. It ominously warns of the potential problems regarding MTAS and suggests the practical alternative of selecting on a regional basis. These warnings were spookily predictive of the problems that actually occurred.
The point of this leaked email is that is proves that Sarah Thomas, one of the masterminds behind the flawed MTAS, was aware of major concerns of stakeholders and she did not address these concerns. If she had listened and acted, we might not be in the mess we are in today. Notably it was Sarah Thomas and Fiona Patterson's flawed research that was responsible for the short listing farce this year, even the independent review panel scrapped this useless competency based short listing process.
It is imperative that Sarah Thomas is made accountable for her actions and that she resigns at once. Apparently at the moment there are plans for her to be promoted into Shelley Heard's position, this is just rumour currently. Sarah Thomas is the Lead Dean for National Electronic Recruitment, and this system that has now been shown to be fatally flawed beyond doubt on many levels. The chaos that has resulted from her demonstrable incompetence was so avoidable, she simply has to be brought to account over this.
This is an extract from a recent email I sent to Gordon Williams, giving the view of the General Surgical SAC on selection. It is also the view I will be putting forward next Wednesday at the second MMC meeting, at which I will be representing the Royal College of Surgeons (of England).
“As you say, time is now short, which introduces some very welcome realism into the debate. We have only eighteen months to go. All the talk about e-based selection and assessment centres is cloud cuckoo land. No government computer system ever works. Who will pay? Is it validated? Is it fair? Who can run an assessment centre? How are they validated? What is wrong with our present methods?
I can see only one way out of this. The imperative is to put all the F2 output (plus the transition group) into ST1 in August 2007. Why not just let individual Deanery Schools of Surgery put together ST1 programmes in line with the requirements of each specialty, and appoint regionally by advertisement and interview, as we do at the moment to SHO rotations. Once people get into ST1, progress to the award of an NTN should be based on success in the MRCS, assessment by trainers and a competitive interview, just like a present SpR appointment, but with a time limit. This might be at ST1/ST2, or ST2/ST3, depending on the specialty. Those happy to select from F2 can do it at F2/ST1, and give the NTN at this stage.
As to exams, with eighteen months to go, there is only one option namely the current validated MRCS. I think we all want it modified. General Surgery would like it to be changed back to something very like the old Primary, as basic sciences are no longer taught in medical school. ENT want it to be specialty specific. Others want different things. All these changes are highly appropriate, but cannot be done by August 2007. Surely we have to go in with the present model and make the desired changes gradually.
Is this too simple or am I missing something?”
I’m sure this approach is compatible with what the Physicians and the Anaesthetists, the other two “acute” Colleges want.
I will try to talk to you on Wednesday.