Thursday, 1 March 2007

MTAS chaos

The Department of Health has decided, for reasons best known to itself, to reorganize the way in which junior doctors are trained. The new system is called MTAS, and like everything else the DoH does has been poorly thought out, rushed and badly executed.

This posting was placed on Doctors Net UK by a junior; there have been many other postings with a similar message:

All my life there has been only one thing that I have wanted to do. I worked hard at school to get to medical school, I then worked hard at medical school to give myself the best shot at the jobs I wanted later on. I passed all my exams, won a few prizes along the way and was generally a good all rounder.

I was warned off medicine by my family and friends, they said it was too stressful and the NHS was in trouble; but I found the subject fascinating and it was not a matter of choice for me.

I have worked hard since I qualified and have had good references from all my employers. I have not taken a single day off ill in my first few years of work, and there are days when I have not felt well enough to come into work. I have passed several postgraduate examinations and attended all the relevant courses, as well as having several articles published in scientific journals.

There are many others just like me. Each of us has made numerous sacrifices because we love what we do. Our study budgets and study leave quotas have been cut, meaning we have had to pay for our own training and attend courses in our annual leave. The trust has also stopped properly reimbursing us for our travel expenses and removal costs. However we carried on because we thought that it would all be worth it, if we could have a job at the end of it doing what we loved.

These last few weeks have been the final straw for many of us. We have been subjected to the most unfair and least meritocratic selection process ever seen, MTAS (medical training application service) via MMC (modernizing medical careers). We have had to sum up our years of work and experience in several politically correct short answer questions, on which we are then judged. Examinations, experience and references are all but ignored in the pursuit of vague waffle.

The computer system crashes time and time again, confusion reigns supreme and hundreds of consultants are appalled by the process. Yet it is allowed to proceed. The short listing results are released in dribs and drabs and thousands of juniors tap away on their keyboards in a state of sheer panic, realizing that their future is being decided by the MTAS tombola.

Some of us have been lucky enough to get short listed for the jobs we want, but we shouldn’t have had to be lucky. The process should have been meritocratic, well organized and fair. It was most definitely none of these.

Young doctors such as myself are appalled by what we have had to endure this year. No one should have to go through such a process again. We all know people who are going to have their hopes and dreams crushed by this cruel joke of a system.

Shame on those who are behind this scheme. Many a tear will be shed this week by many brilliant young doctors who have had their hopes and dreams crushed in a quite barbaric fashion. Many of us will emigrate and many of us will leave the profession; I hope those behind the scheme are proud of these achievements.

Of course we do not all expect to be handed our perfect jobs on a plate. However we deserve not be lied to, we deserve not to be treated unfairly and we deserve to be treated with a little more dignity, respect and humanity than we have in 2007."

We all know people who have been shafted by this system and I would like to dedicate this thread to all those juniors out there.

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