Doctors' Working Lives News

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Improving Doctors' Working Lives

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Remedy UK loses High Court battle over MTAS 
The High Court has ruled against Remedy UK's claim that the Medical Training Application Service (MTAS) and the subsequent decisions of the Review Group were "so conspicuously unfair as to amount to an abuse of power".

In his judgement, Mr Justice Goldring said that "although far from ideal", the Review Group's decision was "within the range of reasonable responses" and that the Review Group was "entitled to reach the decision it did given the circumstances facing it at the time".

However, he also concluded that "The fact that the claimant has failed in what was accepted to be an unprecedented application so far as the law is concerned does not mean that many junior doctors do not have an entirely justifiable sense of grievance. The premature introduction of MTAS has had disastrous consequences. It was a flawed system in the ways I have indicated." He indicated that the junior doctors could still appeal over job allocations or take their case to tribunal.

Remedy UK have ruled out an appeal, "as the lives of 34,000 doctors have been subject to enough uncertainty in recent months". In a statement they said that "This is a sad day for doctors and the NHS. The judge has recognised that we have challenged an inherently unfair system, but at this late stage he is powerless to act."

Remedy UK have a copy of the full judgement here.

The BMA have issued a response stating: "We hope the Department of Health will not claim this as a victory when the careers of thousands of doctors remain in doubt because of government failures. The High Court is absolutely right to criticise their handling of this mess, and to point out that our concerns about it were ignored...We have demanded that the government guarantee that no doctor will be unemployed as a result of this process and called for funding for extra training posts. We now hope that doctors will unite to fight for these aims. The past week has been incredibly painful for the medical profession. It’s time for us to start healing the wounds and move on." As reported yesterday, the BMA have written to Patricia Hewitt suggesting urgent steps to be taken to resolve the MTAS situation, including employment guarantees, resources (e.g. bursaries), a more transparent process, a doctor-led group to design training, and greater training flexibility.

Further reports and comment are available at the Guardian, Telegraph, Daily Mail, and elsewhere.

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt is facing a vote of no confidence in the House of Commons today over her handling of MTAS. (Guardian and others)

Following James Johnson's resignation, a Channel 4 News report examines doctors' concerns over the BMA's representation of their views on MTAS and looks at the role of

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