Since Monday, when the Medical Training Application Service (MTAS) announced which doctors would be shortlisted for an interview in their new system, a tsunami of discontent has been rumbling on the horizon. It has taken until Friday for the full scale of the problem to reach the media: Under the guise of ‘modernisation’, the government has effectively culled 8,000 jobs at once. Predictably, this has inspired anger among doctors, especially since many of the applicants have found themselves off the shortlist for the post that they currently hold!
Many are considering leaving the country.
As one would expect, Dr Crippen has more information on how poorly the process has been managed. But a quote from a person named ‘fishgoth’, posting on the doctors.net.uk website, sums up the problem:
MMC is an ill thought-out wankfest, destined to destroy the careers of thousands of junior doctors. This shameful cuntathon of an online exercise in humiliation will leave large numbers of doctors, some with several years experience in a speciality, fighting over the crumbs of a few jobs that will ultimately produce ‘specialists’ with fuck-all experience
‘Fishgoth’ is a surgeon, writing late at night after an exhausting shift. In addition to the problems raised, it is clear that the Modernising Medical Careers process has actually served to raise the blood pressure of doctors who we hope remain calm during a crisis, our crisis. He (I suspect it is a ‘he) rages on:
My future, my earnings and my ability to pay off a mortgage have suddenly been channeled into a two week wank-fest of an online application which kept crashing
It may be that, despite the MMC policy being so flawed, the fact that it is a government policy means that there is very little redress for juniour doctors who complain, or protest about it. All policies, after all, have winners and losers. However, I think that the problems with the MTAS website may be an achillies heel.
When many doctors found that, for one reason or another, they could not submit their application properly, they naturally asked for assistance from the MTAS team. MTAS recommendations were embarrasingly amateur. They suggested that all doctors log-in using Internet Explorer, and try submitting their application in the early hours of the morning. This is totally unacceptable, akin to shutting a government agency when it is supposed to be open.
What is more, it looks very much to me like maladministration (i.e. when a government agency has not applied policy correctly). All government websites must comply with accessibility standards, allowing a fair measure of the population to access any particular site. The MTAS site would fail even the least demanding of these standards. It is therefore in breach of the governments own legislation in this regard. Disappointed doctors may find that the most effective means of redress may be via the Parliamentary and Heath Service Ombudsman.
In the coming days, I hope to compile a more detailed post here, on what is meant by ‘accessibility’ in the web design sense of the word, and how the online application forms employed by MTAS fail accessibility standards.