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Junior doctor jobs offers withdrawn after admin blunder

Junior doctors across the country have had job offers rescinded following an error in the administrative process.

A spreadsheet error was made in transferring data from one system to another.

An electronic marking system used at interview produces a spreadsheet which is then copied. Appointability criteria are checked at this point, with those not appointable excluded.

This spreadsheet is then copied into a new sheet with a different format, at which point the blunder occurred, resulting in marks from interview stations being mixed up and incorrect rankings given for a significant number of candidates.

The error was first revealed last Friday afternoon, just before the bank holiday weekend.

ST3 job offers for nationally recited medical specialities have been rescinded, which the BMA says has caused “extreme anxiety” for those who have made life choices based upon these offers, including arranging moves and putting deposits on new homes.

Dr Jeeves Wijesuriya, chair of the BMA junior doctors committee, said that the withdrawal of job offers was “completely unacceptable.”

All those who could have been directly affected by the error have reportedly been notified, although the BMA has warned that a number of specialities may also have been indirectly affected by this issue.

Today the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) will rerun the allocation process, which the organisation says is the only way to be fair to all candidates, ensuring that their real scores are used.

According to the royal college, doctors who applied to ST3 to be clinically benchmarked to have their academic clinical fellowship programme confirmed are unaffected.

The RCP has been criticised for announcing the mistake late on a Friday afternoon, but said that it wanted to reveal the error “at the first opportunity” rather than keeping the information to itself for a further three days. It discovered the error on Thursday and claimed that it worked as fast as possible to identify the extent and nature of the problem.

RCP president, Professor Jane Dacre, and its registrar, Dr Andre Goddard, apologised for the error and explained: “We are re-running the process as some doctors may have not got the job they originally would have preferred due to the error and we must be fair to them.”

In a joint statement Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, and Wijesuriya said that their immediate priority is for swift action to be taken to rectify the situation and prevent further uncertainty and anxiety for those affected.

They added: “Following feedback from the BMA and the RCP trainees committee, the RCP has agreed that preferencing of jobs will only reopen once revised offers are remade; at this point, upgrades and swaps will be possible for those who wish to utilise this system.

“This means those affected will be identified quicker, and solutions sought.”

However, the pair warned: “There is no hiding from the fact that many trainees will have made huge life decisions based on their original offers.

“We continue to demand that those who suffer financial losses as a result of this error are compensated appropriately. We are also continuing to take legal advice on whether any employment law has been breached.”


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