ST3 recruitment statement
The Association of Anaesthetists and its Trainee Committee raised concerns to the four national education leads regarding the ST3 recruitment process for August 2020. The statutory education bodies had decided that applications were to be decided based solely upon trainees’ unverified self-assessment score of their own portfolio without the corroboration of other face-to-face methods. We questioned whether this method could unfairly disadvantage certain candidates. We provided suggestions for consideration and specifically asked:
- Whether an impact assessment on diversity and equality had been undertaken for the recruitment process;
- How any potential discrimination was mitigated, and:
- How they planned to future proof the selection process with the ongoing impact of the pandemic.
We accept difficult decisions had to be taken to ensure patient care was delivered, whilst also ensuring recruitment was completed despite the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we wanted to ensure that potential deficiencies encountered using this alternative methodology were not repeated.
The four national educational bodies responded and agreed to undertake a full external analysis of the affected recruitment outcomes and have committed to publish the findings. They have acknowledged that there was a risk that the recruitment process utilised on this occasion could have created bias compared to the traditional recruitment methods. We have been assured that all future recruitment plans will have equality impact analysis undertaken before applications open and will be revised, as necessary.
The bodies have provided the following information for the next round of recruitment for training posts commencing in February 2021.
- No interviews will be held in person.
- All specialties which use the Multi-Specialty Recruitment Assessment (MSRA) should use this for appointment to their training programme.
- All specialties which do not use the MSRA (including all of the higher specialties) should use a verified self-assessment. Self-assessments should be as granular as possible to reduce the likelihood of a large number of applicants being tied with the same score.
- Verification will be undertaken by clinicians using evidence which applicants will upload to ensure that applicants have scored themselves appropriately. Verification will be completed for all applicants who have been longlisted.
- All specialties which are using self-assessment will also be required to have an online interview.
- Applicants will be seen by a single panel for their interview which will consist of a minimum of two panel members.
- Interviews can cover multiple domains, however the requirement that interviews last a minimum of 30 minutes has been removed. Self-assessment scores should not be covered within the online interview.
- Should there be a second peak of COVID-19 which significantly impacts on the ability to deliver online interviews, verified self-assessment scores will be used in isolation to appoint to training programmes.
We congratulate trainee members who received offers into specialty training and have since started their ST3 training in August 2020 – we wish you all the best for the future. For those who have been unsuccessful, there is a range of support services offered by the Association, which can be accessed through the “Wellbeing and Support” section of our website. In particular, members may find now is a good time to take advantage of our Mentoring network.
We want to inform members of the steps we have taken to advocate for a fairer and more robust recruitment process for the future and reassure them that we will continue to support our trainee members throughout this process.