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Fly away on your broom Patsy

Posted Oct 07 2008 7:22pm


Andrew Lansley MP has written to Patricia Hewitt and asked her some specific questions as regards her recent answers to parliamentary questions on MMC. Some clever chap has obviously pointed out several factual flaws in Patrica Hewitt's rather flimsy argument:

" Modernising Medical Careers

Following yesterday’s exchanges in the House, I’m afraid I need to follow up on several points on which you gave inadequate or questionable replies. I hope you will appreciate the urgent need to get this right.

Before turning to these points, let me be clear: we are not opposed to the need for change in the application and training system - we are opposed to the flawed implementation of the changes and your Department’s failure to address them adequately.

So firstly, I am writing to ask you to respond to the following questions, which you failed to answer yesterday in the House:

1. Junior doctors do not regard the review group as independent. There is currently only one junior doctor on the panel which is at odds with your assertion that, ‘it is essential that we have not only the representatives of the junior doctors but the representatives of the medical royal colleges’ ( 19 March 2007, Official Report col.582 ). In the interests of delivering the best possible recourse, will you appoint additional representatives of junior doctors; and to demonstrate independence, some of the consultants who decided they cannot proceed with the interview process as it is?

2. You conceded that there were 23,000 training posts for just over 32,000 eligible applicants. Will you explicitly repeat the assurance that Lord Warner gave on 13 December 2006 that, “Doctors in training should consequently be confident about securing a training post”? ( DH press release 13 December 2006 ).

3. Will you confirm whether ‘your understanding’ that MTAS was quality assured; and does this relate directly to MTAS, as it is currently structured?

4. Had you read the scoring system against which applications for training posts are judged prior to yesterday’s debate, and do you agree that is weighted in such a way as to discount relevant clinical experience, academic achievement and references?

5. Will you be prepared to accept that the review group can recommend that MTAS be abandoned in its current form if it cannot be reformulated to be fair?

6. How much has MTAS cost to date?

7. You did not say whether or not, if the review group allow for it, you will sanction the conversion of staff-grade posts to additional training posts. Will you?

8. Will you apologise – as Lord Hunt did yesterday in the Lords – to the thousands of junior doctors who have been thrown into disarray by the shambles that is Modernising Medical Careers?

Secondly, what you chose to say about MMC in the House yesterday at best reveals your limited understanding and at worst is misleading.

I am asking if you will correct the Official Report on the following three inaccurate points you made:

i) ‘It has always been the case under the new system that when applications are submitted, the full CV and portfolio can be, and generally are, attached’ ( 19 March, Official Report, 19 Mar 2007: Column 580).

But according to those who use the system this is simply not true. To cite a few examples: “I can categorically state that the submission of CVs along with the online application process was not possible during the entire first round application process” ( Research Registrar, Yorkshire and the Humber ), “I was not allowed to see the candidates’ CV for short-listing or at interview”. ( Consultant, East of England ). These are not isolated cases, I and my colleagues have been received dozens of similar letters.

ii) “My understanding is that it is not true to say that the MTAS system crashed ….that others suggest that some candidates’ applications were lost in the process- and I understand that that too is untrue”. ( Official Report, 19 Mar 2007: Column 581).

Again, the evidence tells a very different story: ‘My own SHO had his application lost and the Mersey deanery confirmed they had never seen it…this has happened to many other doctors’ ( Consultant, North East ). And on the 27 February the BMA called for a delay to the computerised system because of “repeated delays and the website crashing”.

iii) ‘A similar system has been operating successfully in the USA for over a century’ (Official Report, 19 Mar 2007 : Column 580 ).

This is a highly inaccurate comparison given: the applications are to a hospital, not a vast region; all US graduates take an exam that ranks them according to their ability and the short-listing is based on these scores; if a programme director is impressed with an applicant he can arrange for an interview and offer a job and CVs are available to interviewers.

Only last month you said,

The views of staff matter - staff have the knowledge and experience to know what really works and we need to harness this knowledge and engage the experience to help facilitate change”. ( 22 February, DH press release ).

But clearly the views of junior doctors and consultant interviewers don’t matter. You did not engage with the 12,000 junior doctors who marched last Saturday and you failed to harness the information you have no doubt received from many concerned constituents. If you had, you would not have made the incorrect statements above and you would be facilitating change for a fairer application process, which the review group has failed to deliver so far and which junior doctors deserve.

Finally, there is a real danger that unless appropriate action is taken now, the problems will escalate towards the beginning of August when junior doctors are due to start their training; by that time many excellent doctors may not have places, others may be in placed in inappropriate posts and more still may be lost in the profession or to other countries.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Andrew LansleyCBE MP"


The mightyDr Ranthas some lovely things to say about our Patricia, she really has done some fine things for young mothers in this country.

If she is a true New Labourite then I'm sure the answers will be 'I'm sorry Mr Lansley but you are simply wrong, this has been the best year ever for the NHS, we have treated more patients and saved more lives than ever before, I am the finest health secretary ever, even better than the mighty John 'of f*ck not health'Reid; and yes I will never resign from this post, even when I have been proven to have lied to the house and spun a rather obvious web of lies. The only way I will leave this lovely job is if the security guards forcibly eject me from the building, even then I will still put up a fight and I may even pretend not to be Patricia Hewitt in order to stay here. Please please let me keep my job, I really really want to further my own political career, I don't want to have to go back to that management consultant malarkey where I have to lie every damn day of the job; at least as an MP I get the odd day off!'

While on the radio 4 today programme she did eventually apologise for the MTAS fiasco, albeit about two months late, but she didn't miss the chance to say 'everyone thinks that MMC is a good idea'. Its quite amazing how the patronising woman feels she can still spin her disastrous policies as being loved by the profession, she truly has no shame.

Take to your wicked broomstick and fly, fly far away from the land of the NHS and take your evil potions with you.

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