Junior doctors lose jobs battle at U.K. High Court


LONDON (Reuters), May 23 - Junior doctors lost a legal bid on Wednesday to scrap a flawed job application system that has sparked angry protests from medics and led to calls for the health secretary to be sacked.

High Court judge Mr Justice Goldring acknowledged the "sense of grievance" felt by doctors, but rejected the case brought by campaign group Remedy U.K.

"This is a sad day for doctors and the NHS," the group said in a statement. "We are bitterly disappointed as his judgment admits that the careers and lives of thousands of talented doctors in this country will be wasted unnecessarily."

Doctors' leaders have described the computerized selection process as shambolic and unfair.

They say it failed to offer thousands of junior doctors an interview for a job and was dogged by technical problems.

Ministers have suspended the system while an investigation takes place.

"We need to ensure that lessons from what has happened are learned and learned thoroughly," Health Minister Lord Hunt said.

The Conservatives said the medical profession was in crisis and called on Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt to stand down.

"(She) has presided over serial failures of management in the NHS," Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said. "There is no confidence in her leadership either inside the Department of Health or across the NHS."

The row has already led to the resignation of James Johnson, head of the doctors' organization, the British Medical Association (BMA).

He stepped down at the weekend after criticism from colleagues that he failed to convey doctors' anger over the Medical Training Application System (MTAS).

Dr. Jonathan Fielden, chairman of the BMA Consultants Committee, said: "Junior doctors' careers are in turmoil because of the MTAS debacle.

"We must now unite and lead the urgent redesign of training to achieve the premier status we used to hold in world medicine."

Last Updated: 2007-05-23 11:21:21 -0400 (Reuters Health)

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