‘Desolate and distraught’: Junior doctors react to job offers being withdrawn after recruitment error

Junior doctors face losing job offers after a mistake in the recruitment process (Lynne Cameron/PA) Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Some 1,500 junior doctors offered hospital positions have had their job offers rescinded after a mistake was discovered in the recruitment process.

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) said it would have to rerun the offers process, blaming human error and branding it a “dreadful situation”.

Junior medics entering their third year of specialist training now face losing the positions they had originally been offered, with many having already made plans to start the jobs in just a few months’ time.

Dr Conor Bowman, currently working for Medecins Sans Frontieres in the Middle East, was affected by the error.

Bowman was "ecstatic" to find out that he had secured a position after working towards his goal for three years; but within 48 hours later it had been withdrawn.

"I received an email saying that because of an error - that wasn't really explained - all of these positions have been withdrawn. It left me feeling completely desolate, so distraught... after having it snatched away so quickly", he said.

Bowman says that he knows people who have started to resign from their current jobs, put deposits on houses and move their families - only to find out there is no position.

"I had already been planning moving back to London, and looking forward to moving on with my life but having this disruption, it's not a nice place to be in".

"For all doctors in the UK, it's been a difficult time in the last couple of years with Jeremy Hunt as Health Secretary, with pressures on junior doctor contracts... it's a system that really grinds you down. You work relentlessly and give the best quality of care but in return for that you are repeatedly treated with not a lot of respect and after a while it is exhausting."

The British Medical Association (BMA) said it was “appalled” to discover the blunder, and that it had caused “extreme anxiety” for trainees.

They added that they taking legal advice on the issue, and would seek to compensate any doctors who had spent money on relocating for their expected new roles.

Dr Jeeves Wijesuriya, Chair of the BMA Junior Doctors Committee told ITV News: "We're angry and disappointed and confused. I think there is a lot of concern what this will mean for some of our trainees."

"What we are keen to know is how many are affected, who those people are but also what is going to be done to support those trainees. What is going to be done to compensate them and try to make this right."

Those affected had been offered jobs in 24 different fields through ST3 Recruitment, a nationally co-ordinated system for recruiting doctors.

But last week the RCP discovered some candidates had been given the wrong interview marks following an error in transferring data from one computer program to another, leading to a “significant number” of incorrect rankings.

In a letter to all those with offers, the RCP said: “We are deeply sorry that it has been necessary to rerun the ST3 offer process due to a mistake in this round of processing.

“We have taken this approach to be fair to all candidates which can only be achieved with the real scores used.”

The BMA said some doctors had put down deposits on homes after receiving their job offers. Credit: PA

In a joint statement, the chairman of the BMA council Chaand Nagpaul, and the chairman of the BMA junior doctors committee Jeeves Wijesuriya, said they had spoken to RCP president Professor Jane Dacre to “articulate the strength of feeling and extent of the impact that this has had”.

They said: “We have heard from trainees who have, after receiving these job offers, put down deposits on homes, arranged moves or whose families had adjusted their plans.”

The statement added: “We cannot express how unacceptable we find this situation and the impact – both emotionally and financially – it is having on junior doctors across the UK.”

The RCP said it would do its “utmost” to resolve the cases of those who had accepted offers and made “unretractable commitments” based on those offers.

“We set the highest standards for our work and expect to be held to them,” it said.

“We have not met them here and are truly sorry. We will learn from our mistake and make any changes necessary to fix it.”

The offers process will begin again on May 14.

  • If you are a junior doctor who has been affected by this we would like to hear from you. Please email arti.lukha@itn.co.uk or jules.mattsson@itn.co.uk.