Doctors will this week mount a court battle for the chance to have Sir Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer, struck off for his role in a disastrous computer system.
Remedy UK, a campaign group representing 1,600 doctors, will use a judicial review starting tomorrow to try to force the General Medical Council (GMC) to launch an inquiry into Donaldson's fitness to practice. The case is centred on the Medical Training Application Service (MTAS), a centralised web-based job application system for doctors, which caused chaos when it was imposed by the government in 2007.
A subsequent independent review said MTAS had "sparked the biggest crisis within the medical profession in a generation", leaving thousands of junior doctors without training posts. There were also serious security weaknesses, which allowed job applicants to view each others' records.
Donaldson was regarded as the architect of MTAS and its umbrella programme, Modernising Medical Careers. Remedy UK referred his alleged mismanagement of the system to the GMC in 2008, but was told that because MTAS was not directly related to clinical work, Donaldson could not be investigated.
This week's judicial review will test that argument, against those of Remedy UK's lawyers, who argue there are many precendents for the GMC to act. Among others, they cite the case of Dr John Roylance, who was chief executive of hospitals involved in the Bristol heart surgery scandal. Although he was in a management position and had no clinical involvement, the GMC struck him off.
Remedy UK co-founder Matt Jameson-Evans said today: "We have been completely let down.
"There should be one rule for all medics, without exceptions. We are drawing a line in the sand over cronyism and lack of accountability in the upper echelons of the medical profession."
The judicial review has been funded by online donations from Remedy UK's members.
A spokeswoman for the GMC told The Register it would not comment on the case ahead of the court hearing.
After several months of what the Health Select Committee described as "unrelenting chaos", then-Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt pulled the plug on the £6.3m MTAS system in May 2007, just before Remedy UK was due to challenge it in court. A month later she quit the cabinet, citing personal reasons.
Donaldson announced his retirement as Chief Medical Officer at the end of last year. He is due to step down at the end of this month. ®