Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Cost Of MTAS Fiasco

Final knockings
The Commissars' disastrous junior doctor recruiting system- MTAS- has been dumped, and most of the medical profession will be joining Dr Crippen in a "tiny gloat". Or even a Huge Cheer.
The Doc has the full story here so we won't repeat it, but as always the immediate first BOM inquest question is how much did the whole shambolic nonsense cost us?

The official version goes like this (PQ 13 March 2007):

"Medical Training Application Service

Ms Rosie Winterton: The projected cost of the medical training application service at instigation was £5.8 million over five years for an England only service. Expanding to United Kingdom wide coverage and incorporating academic/specialty and general practitioner recruitment into a single, two-round recruitment exercise has slightly increased set-up costs. The projected cost of the service is now expected to be £6.3 million over five years."

Last month Rosie backpedalled from this, telling us it cost "£1.9 million in 2006-07, and the budgets for 2007-08 have not yet been agreed."


Knowing the way these projects normally run, even £6.3m sounds incredibly light. If by some chance it covers the IT cost (itself unlikely), it won't possibly cover all the associated costs of trying to make the thing work.

Plus of course, the costs aren't yet over. For one thing, having wasted so much time with MTAS, hospitals are staring down the barrel of a staffing crisis. As Professor Humphrey Hodgson, a liver specialist at the Royal Free Hospital, says: "We are in damage limitation in which we want to make sure that patient care does not fall between the cracks of this problem." Like the Doc advised, if you're planning to get ill, do it in the next couple of months.

Once again, the big lesson is that these top-down all-purpose masterplans just don't work. As with the Supercomputer, MTAS highlights the shocking lack of consultation with the people at the sharp end. Indeed, a spokesman for Remedy, the junior doctors action group, points out that ministers have still not included any of the junior doctors who have been affected by the problems on its review group.

No matter that the Commissars were responsible for the fiasco in the first place: they still apparently expect us to believe they're the only ones who can sort it out.
PS When Hewitt gets fired this summer, the Department of Health will get its eleventh Secretary of State since 1985. In the same period, Tesco has had just two Chief Execs. Both of them joined the business straight from university and worked their way to the top. None of our last 10 Health Secretaries had any previous knowledge of healthcare, let alone how to run the world's third largest organisation (see Tyler Telly vid here) Maybe the eleventh will be some hitherto unspotted healthcare management genius. But I don't advise holding your breath.

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