NHS England Anaesthetics CT1 recruitment review report

Published: 24/08/2023

NHS England (formerly HEE) has published its report of a review into two errors that affected anaesthetics CT1 recruitment in February 2023.

The recruitment process has a significant impact on doctors’ careers and personal lives. They deserve a full and transparent account of what went wrong and the action taken to prevent similar errors occurring in future.   

The errors relate to applicant communications sent out on 7 February 2023:

  • Two applicants who applied with reasonable adjustments for their interview had not reached the threshold for interview and were emailed specific interview dates and times erroneously.
  • A further 20 applicants who had been advised they had a status of shortlist reserve were then sent another email saying they would be informed of their interview date and time.

Following the College’s intervention when the errors were made in February, the Anaesthetics National Recruitment Office (ANRO) made some immediate changes including allocation of additional resource to ensure the CT1 interview process was conducted without further incident.

The College was represented on the incident review group and we are grateful to applicants who shared their experience with us at the time. We used this feedback to demonstrate to NHS England the impact of the errors and to push for the increased resource to be sustained. We also advocated for greater oversight of the recruitment process and for ANRO to report back to the incident review group on its progress against the recommendations. 

We will discuss the report at our Council meeting in September and consider our next steps. Included in that discussion will be consideration of NHS England’s report of a significant incident review into serious issues that affected anaesthetic CT1 and ST3 recruitment in autumn 2021. The report was completed in December 2021 and although the College argued strongly for the report to be published upon completion, it was only published last month in response to a freedom of information request.

The fact that further errors occurred following the serious errors made in 2021 is deeply concerning. Such errors are extremely distressing for people who are trying to forge a career in anaesthesia. Recruitment and its processes should be a top priority for NHS England and must be adequately resourced, with due care given to every doctor who applies.

We will continue to represent our members’ views in conversations with ANRO and NHS England about recruitment. 

Dr Fiona Donald
President, Royal College of Anaesthetists