Read Message Back to: Inbox
In many senses the damage is done. All that Hewitt achieves by this is to stop making matters even worse. We may now get some round pegs into round holes but still, because she has bunched two year’s graduates into one year’s appointments there will be about 7,000 –8,000 doctors without a job. At £250,000 apiece that is a scandalous waste of public money – about £2 billion - as well as wrecking the careers of all those young people.
TELEGRAPH - Leading Article 16/5/07
Hewitt shouldn't have the chance to resign.
How Patricia Hewitt to use a written parliamentary statement yesterday to annypical of ounce the fact that she is abandoning the catastrophic computerised job application system for junior doctors.
The Health Secretary should have had the grace to go before the Commons in person to apologise for this fiasco. For months, the careers of thousands of expensively trained, highly motivated young men and women have been beset by uncertainty and confusion. The computerisation of applications for specialist posts made no attempt to assess the suitability of candidates for specific posts. It reduced the whole process to a lottery.
Worse, the computer system was not even secure: it was possible to access the personal details of thousands of young doctors without a password or logon.
Miss Hewitt's announcement that the system is to be shelved has, therefore, a certain inevitability. The Daily Telegraph, which first revealed the scale of the blunder, welcomes the U-turn. But this has been a wholly unnecessary upheaval. Labour's micro-management of the NHS has produced inefficiencies galore, but nothing on quite this scale.
Thousands of young doctors, the specialists and consultants of the future, have been alienated and demoralised because, under this gimcrack system, their hard-won qualifications were treated as naught, their areas of interest simply ignored. Only a profoundly unimaginative bureaucrat bolted to a Whitehall desk could have dreamt up such a hare-brained scheme. The result has been chaos - mismatches galore, and thousands of doctors facing the prospect of no placements at all. Is the NHS so over-burdened with clinical talent that it can deal with its brightest and best in such a careless way? Where was the political oversight that should have seen the flaws inherent in this scheme before it had left the ground?
We shouldn't be surprised at the Health Secretary's failure. After all, it was Miss Hewitt who memorably described 2006 - when scores of health trusts slipped into deficit, when the scandal of mixed-sex wards persisted, when MRSA continued its depradations, when doctors were flown in from eastern Europe to cover for GPs who no longer work weekends - as the "best year ever" for the National Health Service.
Miss Hewitt is said to be booked into the departure lounge when Gordon Brown assumes the premiership at the end of next month because she has always been such a fervent Blairite. But her long-overdue exit from the Cabinet should have nothing to do with the interminable feuding of the Brownites and the Blairities.
Miss Hewitt deserves to go on grounds of sheer, blistering incompetence.