Along with Russell Howard, you might have noticed in the past couple of weeks that there’s a lot of tension about changes in pay & conditions for Junior Doctors in the UK.
It’s been rumbling along rather like a nagging appendix since 2012 when negotiations between the government at the time (now re-elected) & the BMA. Now those discussions have been halted by the BMA until three crucial key points are resolved & the government back down on them:
- A starting salary which will no longer reflect the years of under graduate education & experience gained.
- Increasing the “normal working week” by 30 hours (90 in total). Given that according to the Office of National Statistics the average working week is 39.2 & for many others, either in jobs which pay below the minimum wage or those who work in managerial or professional roles the average working week is far longer; to keep the Wolf at Bay, the fear of redundancy or because it is just impossible to accomplish what is required of them within the “official” working week.
There’s an American book which was written by Horace McCoy & subsequently made into a film – it deals with Dance Marathons which proliferated during the Great Depression in the 1920’s & 30’s’ – people danced themselves into the ground in order to win a cash prize. Sleep-deprived, the effects on physical & mental health were appalling & for some it ended in death.
3.The thing about being a junior doctor is that they are already doing far more than the European average & it just is not safe. The safety net this offered & which obliged NHS employers, to reduce working hours for Juniors because they were dangerous for everyone is under threat. Why do I say this? well, personal experience over the years when junior doctors routinely worked all week & then were expected to do a full weekend on call on top of that, were already practically on their knees. I witnessed doctors who:
Couldn’t remember basic drug doses
Fell asleep in their food
Wept through frustration & exhaustion
Took substances to keep awake/sleep
Self-harmed in other ways
If you need further convincing then imagine you were being paid your monthly salary, for arguments sake £23,000 (before deductions) per year for 60 hours work per week & from next month you will still earn £23,000 but will need to do 90 hours per week. This equates to a reduction in your monthly wage of around £960 per month.
I could go on, but I won’t because they were the worst of times & I don’t want to see them return. Patients deteriorated, even died & it was all because the people in Government & senior positions were either too callous to care, ignorant to hear or disingenuous to give a damn. This appears to me, yet another not very subtle covert attack on the NHS, piled on to the heap it is already trying to smother it with.
Taking to the streets to demonstrate has compelled Mr Hunt to make some public response today: personally, I am still very afraid…
All of sudden Doctor Nick Riviera doesn’t seem quite so funny any more.
Russell Howard’s Take *strong language!