I write again regarding the situation within the health service. Again, I find myself driven, in anger, and frustration, to write about misrepresentation in the media. This time I write about an interview with Mr Hunt, published online in the Independent on 2/10/15.
I am a junior doctor working within the NHS. After 8 years experience post graduation, I work in a field with a busy non-resident on call rota, and therefore will be greatly affected by his plans. Mr Hunt claims our anger and upset is all about money. This is disingenuous. Money is a concern: we have no concrete suggestion of what our new working hours and pay structure will be, but of the offered alternatives we have been given to work with, all leave many people, particularly those who have taken time out for research, have experience of other specialties, or have had children, with a significant pay cut, as will those with high out of hours commitments. A loss of 15-30% of one’s salary would cause consternation in anyone, regardless of profession.
The issue runs much deeper than this however. Mr Hunt has discussed again the 11,000 excess weekend deaths, and claims his plans will reduce this. As doctors, we are used to reviewing evidence, and his argument is flawed.
I regularly work weekends. When I do, it’s part of a run of 12 days, normally with 3 or 4 ‘on call’ nights, where I can be and am called at any time by anyone in the region for advice or to attend the hospital to review an unwell patient. Weekend work is exceptionally busy; frequently junior doctors and consultants are running from one unwell patient to another, and it can be much harder than normal day to day work.
In addition, I always work week days. Yesterday, in my team of 8 registrars, three were missing. One on annual leave, one covering acute admissions, one has left. This is pretty standard. And we were on our knees. No patients were harmed during the day, everyone got exactly the care and attention they needed. Everyone except the staff that is, and I’m sure I’m not alone in crawling home and into bed after a terrible week.
Weeks like that are not the exception. The website www.notfairnotsafe.com has been set up for doctors to log the extra unpaid overtime they do; do have a look, it makes for interesting reading. The system is at breaking point, and if Mr Hunt continues in his vendetta against junior doctors, we will leave en masse; the system will then be broken.
We all want to improve patient care and survival. We wouldn’t do what we do if we didn’t. But with his new contract, the only options seem to be working longer hours for less pay, or spreading out an already overstretched workforce. For less pay.
Dilution is not the solution to your problem, Mr Hunt. I don’t envy you being Health Secretary, but you need to sort out a better plan and a better contract. We’d be only to happy to work with you if you did.
Click here for the original article