Doctors have slammed a new government recruitment programme for junior doctors, labelling it “shambolic” and “open to corruption”.
The British Medical Association (BMA) said it had received reports that unqualified medical staff had been shortlisting applicants for the Modernising Medical Careers (MMC) recruitment scheme, but found they were able to change the candidates’ scores.
The BMA also accused the Department of Health of massively underestimating the demand for the programme, and said that the scheme had been blighted by technical problems.
Dr Jo Hilborne, chairman of the BMA Junior Doctors Committee, said the future careers of thousands of doctors were at stake.
“Doctors have lost what little confidence they ever had in the new system,” she said. “They’re feeling confused and increasingly angry. If any doctor has been disadvantaged because of any of these problems, the BMA will fight for their right to fair treatment.
“It’s time for the government to take responsibility.”
About 30,000 junior doctors have applied for 22,000 UK specialist training posts under the MMC scheme, which enables medics to become GPs or consultants in a minimum of five years.
Interviews for the specialist posts were scheduled to start last week.
However, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health defended the recruitment process.
“We aim to keep to the previously published schedule for interviews,” she said. “It would create greater uncertainty and anxiety for thousands of junior doctors if the interviews were cancelled.”
NHS Employers said it recognised that it was “a very challenging time” and would be supporting the doctors going through the application process.