The first round of MTAS applications is to go ahead, despite the reported problems. The announcement was made at 8pm Friday evening after all day discussions by the review group. Changes are to be made to strengthen the rest of the process.
The Department of Health said the group had made the following recommendations:
* All eligible applicants for their third or fourth year of specialty training (ST3 and 4) will be guaranteed an interview for their first or second choice of training post. This includes those who have been offered only their third or fourth choice at the moment.
* All applicants for the first year of specialty training (ST1) who have not been shortlisted for any interviews will have their application reviewed. Where candidates meet the selection criteria they may be offered an interview in Round 1. If not, they will be offered career guidance and support to enter Round 2.
* All applicants for second year specialty training posts (ST2) who have not been short-listed for interview will be offered a face-to-face review with a trained medical advisor to determine whether they meet the short-listing criteria. Those who meet the criteria may be offered an interview in Round 1. Those who are not selected for interview will be offered career guidance and support to enter Round 2.
Those applying for ST1 posts who failed to secure an interview in the first round will be advised in the coming week how the review of their application will be handled.
The group has also recommended that data on the numbers of available training places and the competition ratios should be made available at www.mtas.nhs.uk
But Health Minister Lord Hunt warned there would inevitably be more trainees than there were training posts available:
“Consultancy posts are much sought after which is why we have more applicants than posts. This will lead to some young doctors being disappointed they can’t specialise in their first choice but this has always been the case. The NHS still needs doctors and they have vital skills that can be put to good use elsewhere.”
Meanwhile Remedy UK, which is behind the marches, has issued a firm rebuttal to any suggestion that it is backed by a political party.
“We are five people (4 junior doctors and wife of a doctor) who like many of our colleagues, have lost confidence in the implementation of MMC,” it says in a statement on its website.
“There are rumours circulating that we are backed by a political party. This is nonsense. We are not affiliated with any political party or receiving any donations from any political organisation,” it states.
Among the MPs pledged to attend the march, is shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley who will to tell marchers that modernising medical careers undermines the morale of the medical profession
“A consultant wrote to me on Wednesday and said that doctors today were “lions led by donkeys”,” he was expected to say. “He’s right. The appalling shambles made of Modernising Medical Careers risks undermining the morale and the future of the medical profession. What is the point of expanding medical school places and then destroying the career progression of juniors?
“I have also been appalled by the collapse of the Medical Training Application Service (MTAS) and the absurdity that those shortlisting applicants cannot see a full CV and attach so little weight to actual clinical and academic achievement.
“We have called on the Review to be a root and branch review. If necessary, they must revert to the conventional interview processes and tell the Government they must make extra training posts. We cannot, we must not, abandon thousands of junior doctors; we must ensure that they can fulfil their vocation, for them and for our patients.”
And Liberal Democrat health spokesperson John Pugh has called for the entire process to be suspended:
“This recruitment round must be suspended immediately in order to salvage any remaining confidence in the system. How can interviews continue when the selection process is clearly flawed?” he asked.
“The government seemed seduced by the technology which is further evidence of their inability to deliver intelligent workforce planning.”