The BMA has pulled out of talks on the review of MTAS.
Proposals issued by the review group last night would have limited each junior doctor to just one interview in the current job round.
The BMA’s Junior Doctors’ Committee argues this would disadvantage those applicants who have already been offered more than one interview, as they would have to choose which job they wanted most, and to withdraw from the other posts.
Dr Jo Hilborne, chair of the Committee, said: “We cannot sign up to what has been proposed. Restricting doctors to one interview would not be acceptable to the 11,000 applicants who have already been offered more than one, and would now see these opportunities taken away.”
Given this decision, the BMA Consultants’ Committee representative is also pulling out of the talks.
The MTAS review group yesterday reiterated its decision not to re-run the first round of interviews, which has already taken place for junior doctor jobs. But it had offered a guarantee to all those who have not secured an interview so far that they would receive an interview.
It only became clear today that this would mean they would have just one interview. Each candidate had been able to opt for four possible job choices, but they will now have to select the opportunity they want most, then be interviewed for that alone. Those who are not appointed at this stage would then go back into the application process for an interview at the second round.
In a statement issued last night, Professor Neil Douglas, chair of the group, did not spell out that it would mean only one interview per person. He merely said all candidates who applied through MTAS and were eligible for an interview in their chosen specialty would be guaranteed an interview.
“Under this guaranteed interview scheme,” said Professor Douglas, “candidates will be able to choose which of their preferences to be interviewed for in light of geographic specialty-specific and ST level-specific competition ratios which will be available on the MTAS website.”
He acknowledged this decision would have implications for the selection timetable.
This new approach, he said, was the most equitable and practical solution available. He recognised that extra time and effort would be required for further interviews.
“Therefore first choice interviews that have already taken place should not need to be repeated,” he said.
In effect, it means those who have so far failed to secure an interview at the first stage will now get one. But those who had a second or third interview lined up will be told to pick the interview they want most and stick with that.
Professor Douglas said exact details of the new process would be posted on the MMC website (www.mmc.nhs.uk) in the week starting 2 April.
“In the meantime, said Professor Douglas, “interviews will continue and applicants should attend unless they are confident that this will not be their preferred choice.”
Where an applicant currently has more than one interview lined up, they should consider pulling out of the interviews they are less interested in so someone else can take those slots. But if they are still not sure which opportunity they want, they can, at the moment, go to all the interviews.
Professor Douglas pointed out that the GP selection process had worked successfully under MTAS. But he acknowledged that, in other specialities, there was evidence that the shortlisting process was weak. “We will therefore eliminate this part of the process immediately,” he said.
He said that no job offers would be made until all interviews were completed.