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Last Updated: Friday, 23 March 2007, 13:05 GMT
Doctors abandon talks on job row
Protesters
Junior doctors have taken to the streets over the problems
Junior doctors have abandoned talks with the government's review group set up to solve the recruitment crisis.

The review was set up to look into failures in the online Medical Training Application Service.

It has proposed offering nearly all junior doctors one interview - over a third currently have none.

But the British Medical Association's junior doctors committee said it was "unacceptable" for doctors offered two or more to now settle for just one.

The online questionnaire was designed to speed up the process for placing doctors in specialist jobs, but a catalogue of complaints have emerged.

Restricting doctors to one interview would not be acceptable and would now see these opportunities taken away
Dr Jo Hilborne, of the British Medical Association

Doctors say the forms are badly worded, do not ask pertinent questions, do not allow them to set out relevant qualifications and experience, and have no facility for attaching a CV.

The result, they say, is that the best candidates are not being selected for the right jobs and has left thousands without any interview at all.

Critics are also aggrieved that about 28,000 UK trainees are applying for 22,000 posts under the Modernising Medical Careers reforms, of which MTAS is part.

Doctors' training was revamped in 2005, with the aim of speeding up progress so juniors could reach consultant level in an average of 11 years, rather than the current 14.

However doctors who have been through their initial stage of training under both the old and the new systems are all competing for a limited number of specialist training posts.

This is the point at which a doctor would select to focus on an area such as cancer medicine or paediatrics.

The BMA said its research showed that the one interview proposals - for junior doctors with GMC registration, a work permit and the necessary qualifications - could disadvantage more than 11,000 doctors who have been offered more than one.

Interview

Dr Jo Hilborne, chairman of the BMA's junior doctors committee, said: "We cannot sign up to what has been proposed.

"Restricting doctors to one interview would not be acceptable and would now see these opportunities taken away.

"Anything that is not fair on junior doctors will crush morale and drive many away from the NHS."

Professor Neil Douglas, of the review group, said the system worked for general practice.

He added: "The review group believes that this new approach is the most equitable and practical solution available."

A Department of Health spokeswoman said the government was disappointed with the BMA move but it would push ahead with the new system and would be up to junior doctors to decide if they wanted the interview.

And a spokeswoman for NHS Employers, which also has representatives on the review panel, said: "In this transition year, this is the most equitable means of recruiting."

The Royal College of Physicians and Royal College of Surgeons both welcomed the recommendations.


SEE ALSO
Review into doctor recruitment
07 Mar 07 |  Health
Jobs protest planned by doctors
02 Mar 07 |  Health

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