On Saturday the Junior Doctors meet. Their decision on whether or not to strike is important to all of us: Junior doctors threaten strike over new contracts – The BMA’s junior doctors committee will meet on Saturday to discuss its plans to attempt to block a deal (Laura Donelly in The Telegraph 18th September 2015). What a shame to have destroyed their altruism so early in their careers. Normally it takes 5 or 10 years, but the government plan to cut their wages makes it instantaneous. Their absence will certainly be felt.
We can’t make doctors stay in a neglected NHS
SIR – Tom Tugendhat, the Conservative MP, suggests that junior doctors should spend a period of time working for the NHS before they are allowed to move abroad, given the high cost of their training.
It is wrong to hold our graduates captive in a chronically underfunded system when nearly 40 per cent of our medical workforce has qualified overseas. We can’t criticise those who emigrate while we rely on immigration for skilled workers, which suppresses wages.
We must accept that a truly world-class health system will cost more than we are currently willing to pay.
SIR – Tom Tugendhat compares the idea of making doctors provide return of service to the NHS to the requirement for Army doctors to serve for six years after qualifying. Members of the Armed Forces make up a significant proportion of the medical staff in hospitals across the country and therefore act as an easy comparator.
The Navy’s current medical student cadetship programme pays back tuition fees (£9,000 a year) and purports to provide further benefits of up to £15,379 a year, including a salary at medical school.
The salary of a newly qualified Navy doctor is a competitive £40,728, compared with £22,636 in the NHS. I have worked alongside Navy doctors and, although hard-working, they do an identical job to NHS doctors.
Moreover, military staff have subsidised accommodation on base and, if this is unavailable, are given an allowance to enable the renting of alternative accommodation.
Therefore, before Mr Tugendhat compares the NHS with the military, perhaps he should consider why so many doctors wish to leave the NHS. A medical degree should not be turned into a form of bonded labour.