Mtas put on hold until 2009

First aid

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The centralised computer system intended to handle the recruitment of junior doctors will not be used next year.

Recruitment to specialist training posts in England will instead be handled using the best elements of paper based, local processes adopted before the introduction of the Medical Training Application Service (Mtas).

Under the agreement, reached by the government's Modernising Medical Careers Programme Board, there will be no restrictions next year on the number of applications junior doctors can submit, or interviews they can attend.

The agreement is still subject to ministerial approval, but the British Medical Association sees it as a pragmatic response to the technical and security problems that plagued Mtas earlier this year.

The system was so slow near the closing date for applications that many applicants were unable to complete and submit their forms. Technical difficulties were compounded by two security breaches, which led to the system being closed and applications being administered through local processes.

The switch to local processes for 2008 is an interim solution while work continues to develop selection methods for 2009 and beyond.

Ram Moorthy, chair of the BMA Junior Doctors' Committee, warned that competition would still be intense, and junior doctors still had a "bad taste in their mouths after being messed around so much this year".

"There remains a huge amount of work to do to ensure that the process is fair next year and beyond, and it's crucial that the government continues to listen to doctors," he said in a statement.

Professor Geraint Rees, deputy chair of the BMA's Medical Academic Staff Committee, added: "Clinical academics are vital to the future of the NHS, but the careers of the most promising academic trainees were particularly hard hit by the catastrophic recruitment failures this year. A separate local recruitment process is the first step towards a fair and effective system for the future."

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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