‘Help junior doctors work in an NHS we can be proud of’

Junior doctors Daisy Browne and Rhian Thomas SUS-160421-164928001
Junior doctors Daisy Browne and Rhian Thomas SUS-160421-164928001

My name is Daisy. I am a junior doctor and I love my job. I want to work in a healthcare system that allows me to provide an excellent service for patients I care for.

This week is the run up to the first ever all-out strike by junior doctors. It is in response to the government’s decision to impose a new contract. Unanimously rejected by the medical community, this contract is dangerous for patients and unsafe and unfair for the doctors providing care. The confusion and spin surrounding this debate has been unhelpful and I want to simplify the main issues.

What is a ‘junior doctor’?A junior doctor is anyone who has completed five years training at medical school but is not yet a consultant or GP. For example, a junior doctor may have 12 years post graduate medical experience.

Doctors usually remain ‘junior’ until their 30s. There are 54,000 junior doctors in the NHS, 98 per cent of which have rejected the new contract. Currently hospitals are required to monitor the hours worked by junior doctors and incur fines if we are overworked. Junior doctors regularly work 100+ hours a week, including weekend and night shifts. While the new contract theoretically reduces these hours, the current safeguards and fines will be lifted. The new contract redefines night shifts as those finishing after 2am. This could potentially force doctors who finished at 1.59am to return to work the same day. By making previously considered antisocial times, ‘normal’ working hours, the new contract allows unsafe shift patterns. Remember, tired doctors make mistakes. We agree the NHS is in crisis, there are not enough doctors. The solution is not to spread the ones we already have more thinly. Under the new contract, those who work less than full time or take time out to have a family will be financially penalised. By the Department of Health’s own assessment, this disproportionately affects women, which is 60 per cent of the junior doctor workforce. Doctors will be discouraged from taking time to conduct vital research in areas such as cancer and Alzeihmer’s disease, as their pay will lag significantly behind their colleagues.This contract will adversely affect those doctors already working the most antisocial and intense hours, leading to further recruitment crisis in specialties such as emergency medicine and intensive care.The government is refusing to acknowledge our extreme concern, but with widespread public support they will be forced to listen.Talk about this issue with friends and family, write to your MP, post on Facebook and Twitter, contact your local newspapers. Please help my colleagues and I continue to work in an NHS we can be proud of and look after you and your loved ones.

Written by Daisy Browne, from Mayfield

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