Friday, April 27, 2007

MTAS - RIP for the moment

You've probably seen this on the news or in paper somewhere, but the systems that was being used for Junior Doctors to apply for Training Jobs in the UK has had to be shut down as it had serious security problems. This came at the end of a long list of problems that have beset the system and its implementation.

I have also blogged on it a number of times see here. Dr Crippen has also blogged on it a number of times see here.

So now you maybe wondering who the guy is in the picture, well he's Paul Dacre and that name should ring a bell, he is the editor of the Daily Mail which is part of the Associated Newspapers Group (AN) and is on the Board of the Parent Company DMGT (Daily Mail and General Trust PLC).

So now you are wondering what this has to do with the MTAS system. Well the AN group also owns a few other companies including those who have websites here. One of these is Jobsite which you might have used, whilst looking for a job (clue here!). They also run, for the NHS, the website used to search for jobs in the NHS for England and Wales. It was this experience that gained them the contract along with Method Consulting for the MTAS system. Jobsite actually host and run the website for the NHS.

It is interesting to note that if you search the Method Consulting website here for MTAS, MMC or NHS you get no relevant results, are they ashamed or what?

The MTAS terms and conditions on their website used to have the following (It's not available at the moment!)

This web service is provided by *Methods* *Consulting* Ltd and Jobsite UK (Worldwide) Ltd for the Department of Health as a service for the NHS. The service is subject to the contract between the Department of Health and *Methods* *Consulting* Ltd as construed in accordance with English Law and subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Courts of England and Wales.
These terms and conditions apply to all users of the website.
While the Contractor intends this site to be continuously available, virus free, and to contain accurate information, the Contractor does not guarantee that it will. The Department and the Contractor accept no liability for any consequences arising from inaccuracies, viruses, the unavailability of the site, misuse of the site, or any User's inability to access or use the site.
Not bad so far apart from the continuously available bit. It then goes on with the following
Data Protection Notice

The Contractor records statistics about visits to the pages of this site to help us administer and improve the site. The personal data provided by an Applicant on a submitted application form will be passed to Recruiters in order for them to consider the application; it will be stored securely in the site's database and will not be available to other Applicants. The application data held on the site will be deleted 13 months after the end date of the recruitment round for which it was submitted. Appointing Employers will retain the application forms for appointed Applicants separately as part of their staff records.
Statistical data on recruitment activity will be provided to the Health Departments and Deaneries for campaign management and workforce planning.

Maybe that should should read slightly differently as it appears the site is open to all comers to do with as they like.

So what has the Daily Mail got to say on MTAS and the system. The latest article is here, no mention of any link here to the fact the Daily Mail might be in anyway linked to the mess that is MTAS. In fact checking through the Daily Mail site we find no link between MTAS and the Daily Mail or Jobsite. As one commentator in the latest article says:
"This is a system that was obviously failing as a project. They had to produce a very quick and dirty result in order to serve their customers. They didn't even do that properly in terms of the most elementary form of password protection.

"This has to be one of the worst types of public sector security failure that I can think of."

This sort of incompetence on top of all the other problems is nothing short of unbelievable.

Worse is the fact that as Dr Crippen reports
And now a trivial matter. Or a matter that seems consistently to be treated as trivial by the department. What happens to the doctors? MTAS, for all its failings, is their source of information about forthcoming interviews and appointments. There is nowhere else for them to turn.
And finally a quote from Mr Eugenides on this as my language does quite stretch to his levels:

Just stop and think about that for a moment. If I could access someone else's internet banking simply by changing the account number in the requested field, someone at RBS would be fired by close of business. In no other field of endeavour is incompetence and waste so routinely shrugged off as par for the course as it seems to be in the governance of the country.

Imagine a pile of shit so large it could be seen from space: the air black with flies for miles in every direction, rivulets of stinking liquefied effluvium wending their way from the base of the huge cack-heap into every nook and cranny of this land; an all-pervading stench so horrendous that it put families from Inverness to Exeter off their food. Wouldn't you expect someone to clean it up? Wouldn't you expect the arses that had deposited this great heap of filth to at least acknowledge their part in creating it? Instead, Patsy tells us that "fewer beds are a sign of success", that the NHS has just enjoyed its "best ever year" (presumably 2007 is already on course to be a fucking triumph), and that MTAS is the best thing since banana Nesquik.
What has this pile of cack cost us, well apparently over 5 years it will have cost us 6.3mm pounds. Its real cost will be in the damage it has done to Junior Doctors.

Heads must roll for this debacle starting with Patsy (Best year so Far) Hewitt.

NHS Blog Doctor: MTAS - what next?


Richard Havers said...

Great post! Anything that involves 'the dark side' needs to be scrutinized. Dacre of course is also a keen Broonite. Say's it all.

Rupert said...

Top post!