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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 March 2006, 05:01 GMT
Doctors attack online recruitment
Doctor and patient (generic)
Some doctors believe talented students are missing out on jobs
A new online application system for junior doctor posts is harming the job prospects of many top students, more than 80 senior doctors have warned.

The Modernising Medical Careers system scraps interviews in favour of points scoring from application forms answers.

In a letter to the Times, the specialists claim the process is untested and is leaving students bitter, angry and demoralised.

But the Department of Health says the system "reduces waste and bureaucracy".

Computer match

Under the new system, students apply online for a two-year foundation training course in hospitals after completing five years of medical training.

There are six sections on the application forms, with exam qualifications carrying the same weight as leadership qualities.

We have high-fliers who will make excellent surgeons who have been rated as failures by this process
Professor Charles McCollum

The points are assessed by a panel including doctors before a computer is used to match applicants with jobs.

The lower the score, the less likely an applicant is to get the job they want. Failed applicants have to go through further assessment.

South Manchester University Hospital professor of surgery Charles McCollum, who organised the letter to the Times, says top students are being overlooked in favour of less suitable candidates.

He told the Newspaper that 60 out of 360 students at Manchester University failed to get jobs after the first round of the MMC selection process.

'They are desperate'

"It's driving us spare. We have high-fliers who will make excellent surgeons who have been rated as failures by this process, despite being excellent students," he said.

"They are desperate. Some have been told they will have to be assessed to see if they are even fit to be doctors, and there is nothing we can do to help them."

A Department of Health spokeswoman said she was confident all good graduates would be able to enter the Foundation Programme by August this year, but that some might not know where their placement would be until the summer.

"There are only 600 applicants not yet placed. We know that a little over 400 of these applied for the most popular jobs, and they will undoubtedly get jobs in the next round," she said.

"The jobs exist where the work needs to be done, not necessarily where the junior doctor wants to be. It has always been the case that some medical school graduates wouldn't get their first choice of location or post."

She said part of the reason the new system had been introduced was that students wanted to be able to apply for posts in hospitals outside the area of their medical school but felt not knowing the staff there was a disadvantage for them.


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