Junior doctors should be made to work long, unsocial hours, whilst also getting a pay cut, right? NO
Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, wants to create a National Health Service that runs 7 days a week- Okay, nothing wrong so far. Except the government can’t afford to and do not currently have the capacity to do this. So, in order to make the plans feasible, junior doctors’ hours will be increased, overall pay will decrease, and ultimately patients will suffer- Okay, now its going wrong.
Before I continue, Junior Doctors are basically any qualified doctor who is not a consultant nor a General Practitioner. There are around 55,000 Junior Doctors in England.
For the first time in 40 years, Doctors are going on strike and this is why:
It’s not about money. In November, whilst the doctors were offered a pay rise by 11%, this was offset by cutting pay for anti-social hours. And these hours are the reason for the ongoing dispute.
The UK has a finite number of junior doctors, and the NHS is being severely over stretched, even before the implementation of a 7 day NHS. ‘Social Hours’ used to mean Monday to Friday, between 7am to 7pm. However, with an expansion of services, and a limited number of doctors to cover, social hours now include Saturdays and hours up to 10pm. Under the previous contract, working these unsociable hours meant earning extra pay, however that has now been cut by 25%.
Unsocial hours means their right to a work-life balance, to spend time with their own families is taken away. It means increased pressure on the doctors, who already work in probably the most pressured working environment.
Patients will also suffer. Tired, stressed, and overworked doctors’ who lack morale and motivation is clearly not good, and will put patients at risk.
Doctors, obviously, are at the heart of making the NHS work, they are the ones having to make life changing decisions, treating cancer patients, carrying out open heart surgery, and the one’s who will have to inform the families of their patients the bad news, and now Jeremy Hunt wants them to have to go through all of that, some more. The NHS was founded by Aneurin Bevan on the principle to, ‘put the patients at the heart of everything it does’. Stressed, tired, overworked doctors does not allow this. It’s not fair on the Junior Doctors’ and not fair on their patients.
Less and less young people want to become doctors, more and more medical students are dropping out, because for what they get, they’ll lose a lot more. And its killing the NHS.
We are indebted to junior doctors: either for our own health and lives, or those of relatives, friends and partners, these doctors are fundamental to keeping the NHS alive.
Doctors’ won’t want to strike, but they’re having to. They joined the profession to care for others, but without a fair contract they can’t.