Fears For Patients In Selection Of Doctors

Welsh patients will lose out because the new recruitment scheme for junior doctors is in “meltdown”, the British Medical Association (BMA) Wales has warned.

Dr Richard Lewis, Welsh Secretary of the BMA, has sent an open letter to Minister for Health and Social Services, Dr Brian Gibbons, voicing Welsh doctors’ concerns about the “fatally flawed” scheme.

Dr Lewis writes, “We now have clear evidence that very able doctors have not been offered any interviews, that non-medically qualified staff were involved in the recruitment process, and that consultants had insufficient time to shortlist applicants fairly. People have got emails offering them interviews for jobs they did not apply for.

“There is no guarantee that the most competent people have been selected. We are worried the public won’t get the service it deserves. Shortcomings in this critical element of the Department of Health programme Modernising Medical Careers have caused dismay and much distress and the system seems now to be in meltdown.

“Our junior doctors have told us that some of the best people in Wales are not being shortlisted. Selection for interview was partly awarded on points with spurious validity. Junior doctors get the same one point for a completed PhD as for a presentation to an audit committee. This just isn’t a good way to select doctors.”

He said the selection process is “fatally flawed” and doctors have no confidence in it. He added, “If it is allowed to go ahead, the effect of this debacle on the morale of all doctors – not just those directly involved but those whose friends and colleagues are suffering – will haunt the NHS for years to come.” He said although the Department of Health has announced a review of the Medical Training Application Service, it is too late and does not go far enough.

Dr Lewis concludes the letter by urging Dr Gibbons to put pressure on his UK government colleagues to halt the interviewing process immediately “for the sake of tomorrow’s doctors and tomorrow’s patients”.

An Assembly Government spokesperson said the minister would reply to Dr Lewis. “There is a UK review going on at present looking at these issues. The review includes both the Welsh Assembly Government and the BMA,” said the spokesperson. “We will be working together to try and improve the system and make it as effective as possible.”