Review of the Medical Training Applications Service and Selection Process

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The review into the Modernising Medical Careers (MMC) recruitment and selection process for specialist training has found that there were shortcomings. The Review, which included representatives of the medical Royal Colleges and the BMA, has recommended immediate steps to strengthen the interview process, which include allowing applicants to provide CVs and portfolios to support their applications.

As a result, some junior doctors who have expressed fears that they have been overlooked in the first round, will be given the opportunity to have their application form reviewed by a trained advisor from a Deanery. Successful candidates will then be given an interview.

Health Minister Lord Hunt said:

"I welcome this review and thank everyone on the team who worked so hard to find a way forward. I know that this has been a difficult time for junior doctors and I hope that this reassures them that we have listened to their concerns, and that our goal is the same as theirs: to find the right people for the right jobs for the benefit of the NHS, its patients and its staff."

The Review Group decided that the first round, which began this week, should continue but recommended immediate steps to strengthen the interview process, which have already been communicated to the Deans and will be communicated to all applicants and selectors as soon as possible via the MTAS and MMC web-sites. These include allowing applicants to provide CVs and portfolios to support their applications.

In addition to this, significant changes will be made to improve selection in the second round. This will include changes to the application form and the scoring system. The Department has accepted the need for change and the revised approach will now be tested with junior doctors, selectors, deanery recruitment teams and employers, and agreed with the Medical Royal Colleges, Deans, trainee and consultant representatives and employers before they are introduced.

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The Review Group has also recommended that further advice and information should be made available as quickly as possible for applicants. The Department has accepted that this will include:

1. information about competition ratios by specialty, entry level and geography
2. the process and timetable for making applications in the second round plus generic guidance on what panels will be looking for
3. generic feedback on how applicants can improve their applications for the second round
4. information about sources of support for applicants
5. enhanced Frequently Asked Questions on the MTAS website, building on feedback from the first round

Jonathan Fielden, Chair of the Consultants and Specialists Committee of the BMA said: "As part of the Review Group we have started the process of regaining the confidence of the profession where necessary in producing a robust recruitment process. There is much hard work to be done but there is a willingness from all parties to achieve this for trainees, consultants and patients."

Professor Dame Carol Black, Chairman of the Academy of Royal Medical Colleges, said: "The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges welcomes the speed with which the government review of the Medical Training Application Services (MTAS) has proceeded. The decision to provide a supportive review for all those not short-listed, whilst proceeding with the first round interview, is welcomed."

The necessary time to deliver this process is being assessed and tested and will be announced as soon as possible.

The next stage of the review will be to consider what further arrangements might be needed for the support and care of applicants. The final report of the review will be available by the end of March.

The Review was set up to understand what has worked and not worked to date, to identify and promote good practice, to recommend action to remedy any weaknesses, taking account of legal and operational constraints, to identify specifically what further action or guidance is required and to develop improved arrangements for the support and care of applicants.

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