Doctors’ pressure group Remedy UK has lost its court battle over the legitimacy of the controversial MTAS job application process for junior doctors.

The Medical Training Application Service, which was conceived to help speed up selection and cut the time it takes to reach consultancy level, has been dogged with complaints ever since its launch this year. Critics claim the system is inherently unfair, and there was substantial concern over the way it was set up, with complaints over the wording on application forms and the lack of a function to include a CV, which led to many doctors not getting even getting to the interview stage of the recruitment process.

Last week, the government agreed to scrap the system, but insisted that the results it had garnered from the first round of selection would remain valid, as it would be unfair to those doctors who had already been successful.

And it was this that Remedy UK objected to, the fact that “the results of what was proved to be an unfair system are still being used,” a spokesman told PharmaTimes UK News. Therefore, the group wanted all current jobs to be converted into temporary training posts, giving those that were unsuccessful in the first round the opportunity to apply next year under a new system.

Court rejects plea

The court, however, refused to invalidate those interviews already completed but, according to media reports, the judge acknowledged the doctors’ grievances, saying that the premature introduction of the system had been “disasterous.” Although highly critical of MTAS, the British Medical Association did not back Remedy UK in court as it felt it would not be "in the interest of doctors and patients."

In response to the ruling, Remedy UK said it was a “sad day for doctors and the NHS,” and that it would not be appealing the decision. And Dr Jo Hilborne, chairman of the BMA Junior Doctors Committee, said: “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.”

He went on to say: “The harsh fact facing us now is that there are not enough jobs. There are 12,000 doctors who will not get training posts through this system, and they must be our priority. 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.”