Observations Body politic

The royal colleges must up their game—or die

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39170.469780.59 (Published 05 April 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:724
  1. Nigel Hawkes, health editor, the Times (nigel.hawkes@thetimes.co.uk)

    The debacle over doctors' specialist training begs the question of what the royal colleges are for

    The debacle over medical training has left the Royal Colleges feeling bruised, but they are in no mood to blame themselves for what went wrong. Their response is one of injured innocence: they feel just as much victims as do the young doctors denied a fair chance of a training post. Your pain is our pain; and whatever went wrong with the Medical Training Application Service (MTAS) had nothing to do with us.

    Professor Neil Douglas, president of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and the man chairing the panel trying to clear up the mess, said that he personally was annoyed at the “negative spin” blaming the colleges for the process.

    Let's grant him this much. The colleges are deeply implicated in Modernising Medical Careers (MMC), but may perhaps escape a guilty verdict over MTAS. Since Professor Douglas hails from Edinburgh, we might opt for the excellent Scottish verdict “not proven.” That allows the charged man to walk away, but leaves the onlookers …

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