Monday, 14 May 2007

Well said - let's stuff the MTAS turkey

This letter in today's Times by eighteen eminent consultants is an excellent summary of how the government continues to fail junior doctors with the botched job application process that they refuse to ditch.

"An independent review body was established by the Department of Health (DoH) to resolve the chaos of February, when a third of applications were randomly rejected. Instead of rapidly suspending an appointments system whose shortlisting procedure had failed, the review has wasted months while time runs out on the junior doctors’ current contracts. The review has become top-heavy with DoH apparatchiks. On the same day as we called for a democratic ballot (letter, April 4), the CMO took his seat at the table. Within hours came the decree that doctors who have trained for ten years would be limited (in England) to just one interview – with odds in many specialties of 10 to 1 against success. Doctors are used to stiff competition. But a “one strike and you’re out” opportunity to use ten years of training would scarcely be fair competition, even if interviews were ideal. Yet these too are a fiasco, some committees having allowed use of CVs, some banning them altogether. Meanwhile, the latest MTAS computer shambles has left many committees guessing whom, when and where they should meet, with no previous paperwork available.

We have put forward several alternatives to the single interview. These were accepted as feasible in a private meeting we had with DoH members of the review body, and are similar to the unilateral rescue plan of the College of Surgeons. We have balloted 3,500 doctors and will publish this week results showing 75 per cent rejection of the single interview, 85 per cent support for a consultant boycott of these and a postponement of the unnecessary August 1 meltdown. Ninety per cent expressed no confidence in the Secretary of State and CMO. The will of the majority should be heard."

This echoes the words of many juniors that I have spoken to and it echoes the broad majority of opinion in the medical community. The lack of leadership from the top is simply unbelievable. Channel 4 news has unearthed yet more faults in the system tonight, surely enough is enough. Bring on the judicial review.

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