NHS: Not Hiring Smart?

pexels-photo-127873In the news recently you might have seen that 1,500 job offers for Junior Doctor positions across the UK have been withdrawn. There is a nationally coordinated recruitment system in place for Junior Doctors across 20 specialities (such as Cardiology, Endocrinology etc.). This is known as ST3 Recruitment and is run by the Royal College of Physicians. Once Trainees have received approximately 2 years of specialist training, they apply to roles in order to continue their training and development.

At an interview stage, they are required to provide an eligibility folder (to prove they are eligible to work in the UK and have gone through the application process) and an evidence folder (achievements, qualifications and publications). Six different interviewers then ask questions about the trainees' experience and evidence folder in order to mark their suitability. All candidates marked as 'appointable' are then ordered from highest score to lowest score, with the highest scorers guaranteeing their first preference out of the available and relevant vacancies.

So, where has this system gone awry? Well, once the scores have been counted up, the data for a series of applicants was transferred to another programme. This transfer is what corrupted the data and lead to some incorrect scores. The error was not picked up and there are no standard checks in place to ensure data has been transferred accurately as this system hasn't failed in the past. Jobs were then offered to the trainees according to the corrupted data. Some of these scores were accurate, some were not. Understandably in the medical sector, it is crucial that people who are ill-qualified don't receive the jobs. Hence, when this mistake was uncovered, the 1,500 job offers were withdrawn with immediate effect.

pexels-photo-247791This has caused considerable uncertainty, anguish and criticism from all of those affected. There are a number of genuine, life-changing implications of this. They may lose the dream opportunity they have been training up to for years, other people have already relocated and put down deposits on houses only to be told that they no longer have a job offer.

Rupert Simpson had received a job offer to work in cardiology in a London practice. In an interview with the BBC, he said "I'm getting married next month, and my fiancée lives and works in London - it would be very difficult for us if I don't receive another offer in London...For years I've been moving from contract to contract as a junior doctor, so the idea of having a stable job for five years was amazing."

The Royal College of Physicians says this is human error, however, the error might be in using a system to collate the data in the first place. An interview should be more than a tick box exercise and it seems like this relatively elitist yet basic job allocation method might be ignoring the 'human' aspect of interviews. Not to mention there are data anomalies such as what has occurred in this example. Why can't we use a traditional interview structure for Doctors? Whilst it could result in temporal and financial inefficiencies, surely each practice would benefit from selecting their Doctors, rather than the other way around?


ElliotI joined Mattinson Partnership in September 2016, having graduated from Queen Mary, University of London with a BSc (Hons) in Environmental Science. I started off working as a resourcer within Dominic's Built Environment team and I was promoted to Consultant in the Spring of 2017. I now cover BIM, Structural and Civil Engineering. My background is in insurance sales, where I gained experience in client and customer relations, which I have built upon in my time in recruitment. In my spare time, I like to stay active and I am known amongst my peers as a fantasy football guru.


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