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Health Secretary Apologizes For Failed Online Recruitment System

Patricia Hewitt, UK’s Health Secretary has tendered an apology to thousands of junior doctors left stranded without jobs. //

Speaking on a BBC program, Hewitt acknowledged that the new online system had caused “terrible anxiety” and that it was “nowhere near where it should have been”.

She was quoted: “That is exactly why junior doctors have been caused this absolutely needless anxiety and distress and I am very sorry indeed that has happened. We are now sorting it out.”

In spite of this, Hewitt insisted that the system, the Medical Training Application Service (MTAS), part of the Government’s Modernizing Medical Careers (MMS) program was itself, sound.

“The new system of MMC I think everybody supports but the actual implementation in this first year of transition was nowhere near what it should have been,” she conceded.

When challenged that the system itself was incompetent, Hewitt replied: “I don’t accept that at all. We are still in the process of ensuring that every junior doctor gets an interview and those interviews have already started - but they haven’t finished - for the job of their first choice. “The short-listing process didn’t work. We are in the process of sorting it out and we are now guaranteeing every junior doctor an interview for the specialty of his or her choice,” she added.

The crisis, which began two months back, is still unresolved. Junior doctors of the British Medical Association walked out on a review body set up by the government to look into their problems, saying that the proposed idea of one job interview per doctor was unfair as many of them had been offered more.

The complaints against the online recruitment system include the forms being badly worded, not asking pertinent questions, not allowing applicants to set out relevant qualifications and experience, and having no facility for attaching a CV.

The result, the job seekers say , is that the best c andidates are not being selected for the right jobs and thousands are left without any interview at all.

More than 30,000 trainee doctors have also applied for up to 22,000 posts, a proportion of which have been allocated for the most junior candidates. Medics fear this could mean experienced applicants could fail to secure a post.

Says Dr. Jo Hilborne, chairman of the BMA junior doctors’ committee: “Not only has the Government failed to design a fair recruitment process, they’ve also misled everyone on the number of jobs available.

“Even if the application system improves, thousands of doctors are going to find themselves without a training post in August.

"We really don’t want highly qualified medical staff to be forced to leave the NHS, but if they can’t complete their training in this country, it could be their only option.”

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