The other day Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary of the UK, decided to impose the new junior doctor contract; despite the backlash it has received from the British Medical Association and pretty much every single junior doctor that works for the NHS. This is due to take effect starting from this August.
I’m not an expert when it comes to this dispute but here are some facts that highlight what the ‘big fuss’ is about:
- The government is looking to create a ‘7 day health service’ following the report from the DDRB
- Sociable working working hours have now been labelled as 7am to 10pm (this was previously 7am to 7pm) – at the moment doctors are paid a basic rate for normal social hours. However, the new set of hours that the government proposes suggests that juniors could see up to 30% loss in their salary
- Pay is now linked to experience and the amount of responsibilities you have rather than the time they’ve served in their post. This means that those taking time out for maternity leave/academic studies etc… won’t get the pay rises at the same pace as full timers. It’s a great time to be a woman!
- But at the end of the day, pay is not the greatest issue. I mean, if I put my main focus on ensuring that I was getting paid a significant sum of money; I wouldn’t have gone into medicine as there are plenty of other careers out there that would provide me with more financial security for less work. The main issue in all of this is patient safety – something which Hunt repeatedly keeps saying is his primary focus! By working junior doctors to these lengths, patient safety is compromised.
By being on placement, I have seen junior doctors work harder than ever to ensure that each patient is receiving optimal care. I have spoken to doctors who haven’t taken a break or eaten in 12 hours, I have spoken to doctors who have had 3 hours of sleep before starting another shift and I have spoken to doctors who are trying their very best to stay on top of the massive workload that’s placed on them.
I came into medicine with a passion to make a difference in this world. But how can this be made possible if those in authority refuse to listen to the thousands of voices of those working on the front line?
For those considering medicine: I urge you to rethink your career choice because the road ahead is a lot harder than what it already is…