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Small Comfort for UK Doctors

Aaronsingh72x721Aaron Singh -- After the hullabaloo of the past few weeks regarding the new government policy on UK doctors’ training (see my previous two posts), all the ruckus that has been raised by doctors appears, amazingly, to have finally penetrated the dense corridors of bureaucracy in the labyrinth of red tape that is the Department of Health (DH).

They have finally agreed to scrap the previous system of interviews under the Medical Training Application Service, which brilliantly ignores doctors’ CVs, research accomplishments and extracurricular achievements in favour of their creative writing abilities, i.e. how well they can imitate John Steinbeck in describing moments where they showed ‘decision-making ability’ or ‘proper team-building etiquette’. What’s that you say? It sounds like this new system was dreamt up by hospital janitors instead of top hospital consultants? Well, funny you said that, because it’s not so far from the truth. Recently the Health Minister came out and apologised to the House of Lords after discovering that the only people selecting candidates for interview (and by this I mean DECIDING HUNDREDS OF DOCTORS’ LIVES AND FUTURES) were, surprise surprise, not only doctors, but also “senior non-medical clinicians or senior deanery human resources staff”.

He forgot to include “and one big mother of a PC”. Because the entire system was online. Hundreds of thousands of doctors’ livelihoods were fed into one giant computer, and it reacted exactly as every cynic on the planet expected it to: by crashing. Repeatedly. And losing applications. And delivering others with the accuracy of Elmer Fudd on dope. There has since been much amusing debate over what exactly the Right Honourable Lord Minister meant by “non-medical clinicians”.

Under the new system, however, all candidates will be granted one interview at their deanery of choice. So there. All these lousy doctors taking time off their duties to march on the streets and whine in the papers (and in the case of this medical student, to blog) can stop their noise, we’ve given them one interview. Does this make things better? In the language used by the MTAS panel, oh yes. The conciliatory noises they make are enough to deafen a herd of stampeding rhinos. But if you take a closer look at just what they have promised (as more and more doctors and bloggers are starting to do) you start to see that things perhaps aren’t as rosy as the DH wants you to believe.

But like I’ve said so many times before that I suspect it’s starting to get old (is it? Tell me and I’ll stop saying this. Nothing stinks more than a stale blogger), what do I know? I’m only a medical student. I’m trusting the wise minds elected into government to know what’s best for my future. And it’s time for this medical student to go hole himself up in the library for another desperation-(and caffeine-)driven 24-hour revision marathon. Wish me luck.

April 1, 2007 | Permalink


What I want to know is - how come the BMA, Royal Colleges and consultants etc weren't making a big fuss about this BEFORE it got put into action? Surely there were at least SOME doctors involved in designing the application process?

Posted by: Victoria | Apr 4, 2007 2:49:04 PM

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