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The News Line: News DOCTORS – NO CONFIDENCE IN BLAIR the disastrous introduction of a ‘fatally flawed’ new recruitment system for junior doctors could haunt the NHS for years to come, the BMA has warned.

Dr Jo Hilborne, chairman of the BMA Junior Doctors’ Committee, and Dr Jonathan Fielden, chairman of the BMA Consultants’ Committee, wrote to Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt yesterday criticising the government’s refusal to suspend the interview process for new specialist training posts.

The letter urged Hewitt to reconsider her decision in the light of 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.

Consultants in the West Midlands announced their decision not to participate in the shortlisting process because of concerns about procedural flaws yesterday.

The BMA letter said that continued failure of the government to act could have disastrous consequences for both doctors and patients:

‘Patients and doctors alike must be able to have confidence that the doctors selected to become the consultants of the future have been chosen because of their own excellence rather than as the result of a capricious and unfair system.

‘This is not the case at present; the selection process is fatally flawed, and doctors have no confidence in it.

‘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.

‘We urge you to reconsider your decision, in light of the new information received this week and the profound loss of confidence in the scheme by the profession.

‘We request that this recruitment round is suspended immediately and a full review of the process instituted immediately.’

The BMA is currently conducting research to find out how many junior doctors have not been offered an interview.

It is pledging support and, if appropriate, legal advice, to any junior doctor who believes they have been unfairly disadvantaged by the new system.
 
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