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Will our doctors be disappearing?

A group of doctors from across the UK have expressed fears that the careers of 10,000 junior doctors could be irreparably damaged because of the disastrous mistakes in the Medical Training and Application Service (MTAS).

Their concerns are stated in a comment published early online and in the upcoming edition of The Lancet. It also warns that patients could be in jeopardy due to the MTAS crisis, and describes as “absurd” the prospect of newly appointed trainee doctors taking up their posts on the changeover date of 1 August announced by the government.

It says: “Patients will be in the vanguard, as doctors disappear, and MTAS’s capacity for chaos moves up a gear. Among doctors, even the lucky employed will not escape.”It adds: “Yet the Secretary of State for Health maintains all is well, bar the computer glitches. In reality, wherever in England more than one candidate per job attends for interview, all but one will be without employment or prospects in UK medicine.”

Various polls published online with the comment clearly illustrate the disillusionment most doctors feel about MTAS. In a poll of 3,255 consultants and junior doctors, only 10% thought the Modernising Medical Careers (MMC) process, of which MTAS is part, was an improvement over specialist registrar training. This figure was slightly higher (25%) for senior house officers.

The comment calls on the chairman of the MMC and MTAS Quangos, and the Postgraduate Medical Education and Training Board (PMETB) to “stop this madness”. It concludes: “On behalf of our profession and our patients, we ask you to heed the majority and say, ‘Enough!'”