Department of Health to review heavily criticised government recruitment scheme for new doctors

The government has caved to criticism about changes to the Modernising Medical Careers (MMC) recruitment programme and agreed to review the system in a meeting today.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said last month that it had received reports that unqualified medical staff had been shortlisting applicants for the MMC recruitment scheme and that they were able to change the candidates’ scores.

The BMA also accused the Department of Health (DoH) of massively underestimating the demand for the programme, and said the scheme had been blighted by technical problems.

Following discussion with the BMA and the medical royal colleges earlier this week, however, the DoH has announced a review into round one of MMC recruitment and selection into specialist training.

The groups will meet today to discuss the changes.

The review will be led by professor Neil Douglas, vice president of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and president of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

The review will be completed by the end of March, so that any changes can be made in time for round two of MMC, which begins on 28 April.

The terms of reference are to:



  • Understand what has worked and not worked to date
  • Identify and promote good practice
  • Recommend action to remedy any weaknesses, taking account of legal and operational constraints
  • Identify specifically what further action or guidance is required:
  • Immediately (or before completion of round one)
  • Before commencement of round two
  • Before any subsequent rounds.
  • Develop improved arrangements for the support and care of applicants.

Dame Carol Black, president of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, said: “The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges welcomes the government’s decision to carry out an immediate review of the Medical Training Application Service, the new system by which doctors are now selected and placed for specialist training. 

“The academy will work with the department in the review to ensure the necessary action is taken to remedy faults and to restore confidence.”

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