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BMJ. 2007 June 23; 334(7607): 1288.
PMCID: PMC1895652
MTAS

Response from the BMA

Sam Everington, acting chairman, BMA Council, Jonathan Fielden, chairman, CCSC, Michael Rees, chairman, MASC, Jo Hilborne, chairman, JDC, Hamish Meldrum, chairman, GPC, and Chris Spencer-Jones, chairman, CPHMCH

The MTAS debacle is the worst insult visited on the profession by any government in many years.1 The priority now is to get as fair and transparent a solution as possible, which minimises further damage while also protecting patients.

The BMA can and will support the estimated 18 000 applicants now left hunting for jobs in round 2. We have achieved a small number of extra posts to increase the chances in some of the most competitive areas, but we will lobby the government to find some more. These must be posts with real training and opportunities to progress to consultant (or general practitioner) status, not an artificial expansion that forces trainees into a dead end subconsultant grade.

As round 2 kicks off it must be fair and transparent and contain both ST and FTSTA posts across the specialties and regions. If not, a swathe of talent will be potentially lost to British medicine.

It is crucial that there is a robust appeals mechanism opened forthwith to ensure that those unfairly treated by the system can be identified and given a secure return to training. This is all the more important for those chasing an academic career, who have been grievously hit by the failings of MTAS. As some of the best research talent available, they are not only crucial to the future of patient care but also to the success of the UK economy. There must be an undertaking to expand immediately the number of academic training posts to prevent a continuing shortfall of applicants to replace an ageing clinical academic workforce.

There must also be a real opportunity for those separated by the process from family, or with other significant reasons, to transfer between deaneries—a “job swap” now will prevent many future problems.

We have an assurance from the secretary of state that no one will be left unemployed in England between rounds 1 and 2. We will hold the secretary of state to this promise and vigorously support any member made unemployed in this way (ask BMA telephone number: 0870 60 60 828).

We have achieved an independent review of the process under Sir John Tooke and are contributing to his interim report due out in September. However, a more fundamental review of the costs and failings of the MMC/MTAS process must be undertaken. We call on the health select committee to take this up urgently.

It is also crucial that the secretary of state heeds our calls, made last month, for a new body to design the future of postgraduate training. This work must start now if this painful episode is not to fester on, further sapping the morale of the profession and having a negative impact on patient care.

Notes

Competing interests: None declared.

References

Godlee F. The future of specialist training. BMJ 2007;334:1067-8. (26 May.)

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