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Tony Blair’s Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt announced she was stepping down on the day Gordon Brown became PM. Dr David Nicholl reckons she jumped before she was pushed, after his embarrassing questions revealed the truth about the government’s junior doctors recruitment scheme.

I believe it is no coincidence that Patricia Hewitt resigned before she was pushed.

On the day when along with hundreds of other medics I took part in the Remedy Parliamentary lobby (24th April), I met my MP Julie Kirkbride, and my first words to her were, "Would you like to skewer Patricia Hewitt because this is how you can?"

She agreed to pose the Parliamentary written question that I helped draft on 2nd May.

It took 8 weeks for a reply - long in enough you might think. But bear in mind that hundreds of doctors have already been badgering for these figures for months.

Then on the very last Friday (the DoH’s favourite day of the week) of Tony Blair’s term (22nd June), the Department of Health finally come up with the figures that we have pestering for months for months, details here

Its complicated stuff but I will cut to the chase.

In brief, there are 14,595 “run through” posts on offer to junior doctors which should lead to them becoming consultants.

On top of this, 4,392 FTSTA positions are up for grabs - these are “sticking plaster” jobs, for one year only, after which an applicant has to try again with no guarantee of future employment.

GP training positions (which were not part of MTAS) should mop up a further 3,450 applicants.

Do the maths.

This means that from a pool 34,389 applicants, more than 16,000 junior docs (if you include those in the short-term positions) have noimmediate prospect of enjoying the career for which - at great public expense - they have been training.

This has been what the critics among the medical profession have been saying all along.

Yet according to Lord Hunt and Patricia Hewitt there was never any chance of “thousands” of doctors being unemployed.

They have misled parliament and the public - thus Patricia had to jump before she was pushed.

It would appear that my figures in my Observer letter from May were an underestimate.

I only wish I'd got it wrong the other way round and people could say I was just crying wolf.

Now where is Where is Lord Hunt? Maybe it’s time to get on your bike back to Kings Heath?



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