Letters in The Times 29th September give an accurate assessment. If politicians and bureaucrats wish to control the profession they need a long term strategy to produce overcapacity:
Junior doctors are brewing up for strike action over the government’s imposed contract, but no one will be the winner
Sir, The new junior doctor contract will remove vital protections on safe working patterns and see a return to us working up to 90 hours a week. With the best will in the world, we cannot be held responsible if such dangerously long hours put patients directly at risk.
The new contract will also lead to an exodus of highly trained NHS professionals to countries or jobs where they will be better respected and rewarded. Over the past decade, our job conditions have been eroded by pay freezes, banding reductions, pension cuts and the removal of free hospital accommodation. If the government imposes this contract, junior doctors (who have a basic starting salary of £23,000) will face a pay cut of about 30 per cent — leaving those who have graduated with well over £50,000 of student debt and earning less than the national average. None of us go into the profession for the money but rather out of an innate desire to help to save and improve lives. Yet a line has now been crossed that breaches both safety and fairness.
We are all junior doctors and members of the National Health Action Party, and urge the health secretary to withdraw this ill-judged contract and thereby prevent what is likely to be a vote in favour of a strike — for which he will bear ultimate responsibility.
Alex Ashman; Dr Hugh Cummin; Dr Georgina Fozard; Dr Jamie Keough; Dr Julian Ormerod; Dr Benjamin Post; Dr Piyush Pushkar; Dr Poppy Roberts; Dr Tim Smith; Dr Ruth Wiggans; Dr Rebecca Wilson; Dr Marcus Baw; Dr Rachel Taylor
Sir, If we as the medical profession strike, it will be the patients who suffer. If we as the medical profession do not strike and the contract is imposed, it will be the patients who suffer. It is now the responsibility of anyone who is or has been or will be a patient, anyone who knows a patient or a prospective patient, to stand up to the government and for themselves and their families. A strike is not the answer, but neither is the alternative.
General surgical registrar, Oxford
Sir, Junior doctors represent the future leaders of our NHS. Their current contract, however, is out of date and is unfair to doctors — a view supported by NHS Employers and the BMA. We have accepted the BMA’s assertion that a new contract is required that better protects doctors and patients, promotes a good quality of life, and ensures that doctors have more stable earnings. There are a few misunderstandings that need to be cleared up, however. Junior doctors will not see dramatic reductions in their earnings, as the government has made it clear that no savings are being sought from the pay bill for junior doctors.
We have no intention of reducing GPs’ pay and we will use pay premiums to help to attract doctors into the specialties with the greatest shortages. Finally, a new contract will provide greater safeguards regarding hours of work, not less.
Chief executive, NHS Employers
Sir, The government has suggested that the hours between 7am and 10pm Monday to Saturday would represent “normal” working hours for junior doctors. This is perplexing, as MPs do not sit before 9.30am, have an average finish time of 7pm and sat for a total of 989 hours last year — the lowest figure since 1979.
Not only this, but they receive a meal allowance if they work beyond 7.30pm and a free taxi home if they work beyond 11pm. Parliament finishes early every Friday and has only sat four times on a Saturday since 1939. Maybe we are not all in this together.
Dr Anthony Cohn