Axed MTAS system won't be replaced next year, MPs admit

Health ministers have declared there will be no national IT system to handle junior doctors’ applications for training places next year, following the collapse of the Medical Training Application System (MTAS) earlier this year.

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Health ministers have declared there will be no national IT system to handle junior doctors’ applications for training places next year, following the collapse of the Medical Training Application System (MTAS) earlier this year.

MTAS was axed by former health secretary Patricia Hewitt after problems with the online application system meant applicants were wrongly denied interviews for specialist medical training posts.

The system had crashed under the pressure of thousands of junior doctors trying to submit applications simultaneously, while a major security breach saw doctors’ confidential personal information – including addresses, phone numbers and sexual orientation – made available online.

Health minister Ben Bradshaw said the government had accepted in full proposals from the Modernising Medical Careers (MMC) programme board – which includes British Medical Association representatives - to cover training arrangements for 2008. Specialty training recruitment next year will now follow arrangements made for a second round of recruitment this year when the national IT system was not used.

The MMC board has agreed to develop a user-friendly and secure national IT system for use in the future.

Bradshaw said: "We have learned important lessons from the difficulties with this year's recruitment process and have apologised to junior doctors for any distress caused to them and their families. We said we would listen to doctors and their representatives and today's announcement reflects this.

"If new or national systems are to be used in the future, they must be rigorously tested and agreed with doctors, the NHS and others involved.”


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