At a meeting in the City Hospital last Thursday, the system (MTAS) was criticised by a number of doctors and described as a disaster for the local healthcare system and for professionals.
David Ford said: “I have discussed the matter with a senior civil servant from DHSSPS. I asked for confirmation that the Assembly has the power to opt out of the UK scheme under devolution.
“I was told that Scotland and Wales are already making changes, and that the Assembly would be able to withdraw from this flawed system and safeguard the future of local junior doctors and the care of patients. We do not want to see a ‘brain drain’ of local doctors – they must not be forced to turn down local jobs because of this defective recruitment system.
“Last week, the Department announced the loss of 1700 administration and management jobs to focus on front-line services. How can they say that if they propose to pay off 400 junior doctors? These are all doctors below consultant grade, who provide the great majority of health care in our local hospitals.
“While there are some benefits from the new proposals to modernise medical careers, the new appointment process is an unmitigated disaster, which has caused trauma for many skilled and dedicated doctors and threatens the care and treatment needed by our people from as early as August this year.
“I am glad to see that the Assembly can now act to give new local doctors a fair deal. I now wish to challenge the other parties to commit to opting out of this system and making recruitment procedures fairer.
“I have therefore written to the new Minister Designate, demanding that the powers available under devolution are immediately used to safeguard our services and our doctors’ careers.”