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Hewitt ditches online job applications for doctors

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Widely loved and respected health secretary Patricia Hewitt has been forced to ditch the online job application system for junior doctors, the Medical Training Application Service (MTAS).

Hewitt said that the first round of applications made through the system will stand - job offers should be out to candidates in the next few weeks. But round two will not take place on MTAS.

"Given the continuing concerns of junior doctors about MTAS, the system will not be used for matching candidates to training posts, but will continue to be used for national monitoring," Hewitt said in a statement.

This is the same system that last month was shown to be horribly insecure, when applicants for the foundation course - the first year of medical training - found their personal details, names, addresses, and even sexual orientation and criminal records published for all the world to see.

Dr Andrew Rowland, vice chairman of the BMA Junior Doctors Committee, welcomed the decision: "Junior doctors have suffered blow after blow because of the government’s terrible handling of these reforms. They have had to go through months of anxiety about their NHS careers, and on top of that, have potentially had their personal details exposed on the MTAS website."

The system has been criticised because it forced everyone to apply for training at the same time. The old system allowed for a rolling application process, so candidates could apply for opportunities as they arose. Many junior doctors had been concerned that if they did not secure a job on the first round, they would effectively have fallen off the NHS career conveyor belt.

According to the BMA, some 34,000 doctors are chasing just 18,000 posts or training positions.

But irate as he clearly is, Dr Rowland does not want the system to be totally killed off. Interviews that have already taken place should stand, he said.

"Forcing people to re-apply for jobs through yet another new and untested system would be unfair on the junior doctors and consultants who have had to spend huge amounts of time and energy on MTAS.” ®

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