Review group revises doctor recruitment scheme after ‘weeks of turmoil’

A revised plan to resolve the Medical Training Application Service (MTAS) crisis has been welcomed as “good news” by NHS Employers.

The new online method of selecting junior doctors for specialist posts had been heavily criticised for failing to select the best candidates.

It was designed to speed up the selection process, but critical job applicants said the forms were badly worded, did not allow them to set out relevant qualifications and experience, and had no facility for attaching a CV.

Last week, health secretary Patricia Hewitt apologised about the situation.

review group has now said doctors in England should be guaranteed an interview for their first-choice job.

Sian Thomas, deputy director of NHS Employers and part of the review group, said it had been beneficial to hear the views of employers.

“We have now strengthened the process to everyone’s benefit. It’s been a huge change to the way we are recruiting doctors, but moving to an online system is always difficult,” she told Personnel Today. “There is no fear that there will be a repeat of what has happened going forward.”

Thomas also praised the support and professionalism of HR teams in NHS trusts across the country. “I am confident that the system will deliver the best doctors in the right posts,” she said.

Dr Jo Hilborne, chairman of the British Medical Association’s Junior Doctors Committee, said doctors had “endured weeks of turmoil”. She urged the government to launch a fully independent inquiry into what she called a “sorry mess”.

Thomas said NHS Employers would be happy to play a full part in any inquiry.

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