Page last updated at 01:19 GMT, Thursday, 8 May 2008 02:19 UK

Handling of junior medics 'inept'

Doctor
Junior doctors say they are not being treated with respect

The handling of the junior doctors recruitment crisis last year by the government was inept, MPs say.

The House of Commons' health committee said the government had provided "inadequate leadership" amid the chaos which saw medics take to the streets.

But they also blamed doctors, saying they were more concerned with factional interests than the common good.

The government said it would consider the findings and pointed out it had already apologised for the problems.

The row, which led to protests outside parliament and a legal challenge by doctors, came after the government tried to streamline doctor training, while introducing a new online applications system.

We understand and have apologised for the problems that the 2007 recruitment process created
Department of Health spokesman

The cross-party group of MPs said there had been inappropriate governance, management and communication by the Department of Health, while chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson had failed to take responsibility despite being the architect of the reforms.

And they said the new application system, which has now been scrapped, was little more than a "creative-writing" exercise that failed to recognise the best applicants.

However, the medical profession as a whole was criticised for not working in a co-ordinated and unified fashion to help rectify the problems.

The MPs' report also blamed the Home Office and Department of Health for failing to restrict open access to NHS posts from doctors across the globe.

One of the reasons why there was such intense competition last year was that UK-trained medics, who have increased in number, had been competing for posts with foreign doctors.

Gaps

Doctors from abroad have been encouraged to work in the NHS in recent years to plug the gaps in the service while UK-based students were trained in medical schools.

The MPs said this "embarrassing problem" still persisted as the government had no plans in place following the House of Lord decision last week to block its bid to give UK-trained medics a priority in the recruitment process.

Health committee chairman Kevin Barron said: "The Department of Health, other relevant government departments and the medical profession must get a grip and resolve this mess that has diminished the reputations of all those concerned."

And Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the British Medical Association, added: "This is a damning indictment of the government's failure to listen.

"We completely endorse the basic analysis that there was a massive systems failure and a complete lack of clear and effective leadership within the Department of Health."

The Department of Health said it would be considering the findings of the report.

But a spokesman added: "We understand and have apologised for the problems that the 2007 recruitment process created."




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