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MTAS: Breaks spirits, breaks doctors, breaks the law

Patricia HewittI’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve said Mad Pat should resign. I’m starting to get a reputation. But she really is not fit for purpose. After presiding over a catalogue of failures, she’s still in post.

She thinks services for rare diseases should be scrapped, doctors and nurses who don’t wash their hands should go to prison, hospitals should treat animals alongside humans, that NHS debt doubling is a good thing, that the NHS has too many doctors and nurses, and that dirty sheets are the way forward. She’s presided over an absolutely catastrophic failure in reform of medical training, and yet still thinks the NHS has just enjoyed its best year ever. She’s even cut the most vital of services because it’s not a political priority.

And now, it’s revealed that not only was MTAS a failure in selecting the right people for the right jobs, it was also a total security shambles.

Thousands of medical students’ and junior doctors’ personal details – including mobile phone numbers, addresses, and even criminal records – were posted, unprotected, on the internet, for anyone to access. They’re even available on Google.

As if that wasn’t enough, highly sensitive personal data which was supposed to be stored anonymously and separately from personal data – things like sexuality and religion – have been posted on the internet alongside the applicants’ names.

When this was first reported to the NHS’s IT commission, they say ‘Ah, there’s not much we can do about that’. That’s when the doctors went to the media. Then Lord Hunt comes along and claims that these were posted by some malicious individual. That was not true. Then it was claimed that the details had only been visible on the web for a few hours. That was also not true. The system was so badly designed that this data was simply being stored online, without even simple password protection, and had been available to anyone with an internet connection and a titter of wit for at least three days, and almost certainly much, much longer.

But just in case that’s not terrible enough, it has emerged today that not only could such information be downloaded and seen by anyone with an internet connection, but it could also be edited. By anyone. Yep, anyone could get into any applicants online application and edit it to their heart’s content without so much as a password.

This is not only incredibly shoddy security, it’s also illegal. It’s quite clearly against the Data Protection Act, and legal experts are predicting that if any junior doctor decides to sue the government over this, then they’ve got a pretty decent chance of winning the case.

But heck, that’s not enough for this failure of a government.

The system which is currently being tested to hold patient records has managed to spew out the personal details of many consultants, including their home addresses and phone numbers. This is the super-secure system that is virtually impossible to hack, spewing out personal details onto the internet in a completely unprotected fashion.

Patricia Hewitt has presided over the introduction of a system which has destroyed confidence, made lives hell for junior doctors, and now broken the law. She’s been an unmitigated failure of a Health Secretary, and has done damage to the NHS that will take years to put right.

I don’t think I can ask her to resign again. The fact that she’s been through all this and not even considered tendering her resignation tells us everything we need to know about her, and everything we need to know about New Labour, and everything we need to know about political integrity. There’s none left.

This post was filed under: Health, News and Comment, Politics.

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Comments and responses

Comment from Mort Karman

    00.32, 27/04/2007

I urge you to keep Mad Pat.
With her record if she is fired she will be sent over the pond and go to work for the Bush administration.
The people in charge for the Prez have already screwed up the part D Medicare, the Veterans Hospitals, even care for the seriously wounded from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
We have enough of our own home grown screw ups. We respectfully ask you do not send yours.
But if she does want to come here to sell the dirty white sheets to the Klu Klux Kla, I might go for that.

Comment from Ken from Glos

    08.10, 27/04/2007

For goodness sake please ignore this useless Government and carry on doing your best until things change.

Ten years ago I had 12 T.I.A, s and eventually saw my doctor .I was rushed into hospital and ever since treated by my doctor and tested every year. I have had NO permanent damage but I do have to take a bucket full of tablets every month. I have a good quality of life because of people like you.

THANKS. You will and must get through this crisis.

Trackback from elsewhere on the site

27th April 2007.

This post has been referenced by another on this site:
sjhoward.co.uk » MTAS: Unbelievably, it gets worse

Comment from sjhoward (author of the post)

    10.23, 29/04/2007

Ken, thanks for the comment. I’m glad to hear that you had no permanent damage – 12 TIAs sounds rather a lot! At the moment, doctors do seem to be largely muddling through the crisis, but the real problem will come in August.

With doctors not matched to posts, there will, quite simply, be a massive shortage of doctors in hospitals – and a vital link of supervision missing in the chain for the most junior doctors.

We will have thousands of doctors without jobs, and thousands of hospitals without doctors, and all because this government felt that their failed system was a better way of matching the two up.

Comment from mac

    11.58, 30/04/2007

I have not seen doctors so angry and humuliated as during recent times.Its a shame that such dedicated professionals are being treated worse than animals.

Comment from Dr John

    11.13, 01/05/2007

Hi Ken

Great to hear we sorted you out- I’m a a vascular trainee and we do a lot of sorting out TIA’s and that sort of thing. I urge you to be vocal- Labour are systematically destroying the NHS and wishes to fully control the doctors so we can be run as cheap as possible, on short term contracts with little or no power to do our best for out patients. I wouldn’t send my cat to my hospital- the beds crisis means MRSA is rife because there’s no time to clean before the next patient has to go in to the bed. I’m a SpR and I’m soon as I’m finished I’m out of the NHS forever. This is what Labour have done. I hope all you people who voted Tony in are happy.


Comment from Anonymous

    02.09, 15/06/2007

i am very happy that this has happened … the medical system of britain is the worst and i am happy i left this idiotic country at a correct time … nhs will sink completely.. and it is so good to hear that the crap system of crap bristishr has failed…

Comment from sjhoward (author of the post)

    02.17, 15/06/2007

Woah, hang on – you are happy that people have been put through hell merely because it doesn’t affect you?!

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