*Trigger Warning* – This post discusses suicide. If you are affected by this post then please seek professional help.
The political world has been left in a flummox today following the first junior doctors strike. It was a huge day for the medical profession. Junior doctors decided to strike today because of the proposed new contract that David Cameron and the Tory government want to bring in.
The BMA has suggested that there are three main issues with the proposed contract:
- Removal of vital safeguards – In short, the Government has already told doctors, for example, that it plans to reduce the number of breaks during shifts down to just 20 minutes every six hours. In practice, this could mean that a doctor working an eleven hour shift will only get a single 20 minute break. That is not safe. Also, doctors are worried that employers will be under less pressure to ensure safe working hours.
- Pay progression – In short, pay no longer matching with the experience junior doctors’ gain through their training. The Government instead believes that pay should only rise when a trainee moves to the next stage of their training and responsibility. They plan to introduce flexible pay premia that could provide a limited amount of support for some, but not all, of the trainees who would be affected by this change.
- Extension of standard time – Under the current contract, standard time is set out as 7am to 7pm Monday to Friday. Junior doctors routinely work outside of ‘standard time’ in order to provide patients with high quality care around the clock.When doctors work outside of this standard time they receive a pay premium (as part of their banding supplement). This is to reflect the impact that working evenings, nights, Saturdays and Sundays has on personal and family life.
The government no longer wants to recognise the impact of working evenings and Saturdays, and so plans to extend standard time to 7am to 10pm Monday to Saturday. Only nights and Sundays would be paid at a higher rate, with Sundays being less valued than nights.
The government wants doctors to continue to work evenings and Saturdays, but just reduce the rate of pay for them. This means that 30 hours currently paid at a premium would move into standard time, and working a Saturday would be the same as working a Tuesday.
The contract would also affect consultants.
It means longer hours with less pay and it means a lack of accountability for health services.
It isn’t good enough. Doctors should be working less hours with more pay. Recruitment for junior doctors is slipping, as medicine is becoming a less attractive field. The proposed changes will make it worse.
I showed my support avidly on Twitter today as I fully support the strikes. I saw people today on the picket line outside hospitals.
I was proud of them.
Although our health services were affected, with some operations being cancelled and services cut back, ultimately we have to think about the impact that their job has on their lives. Many doctors can burnout and suffer from health problems themselves.
They work longer than they have to (as do many of us) and they give up their personal, social and family life to help others. That’s pretty selfless, don’t you think?
Many go into medicine to help people and they do help us.
But who helps them? It’s a very challenging job. Doctor’s still aren’t finished studying even though they have graduated. They are completing their foundation 1 (F1) and foundation 2 (f2) training whilst working night shift or a day shift. It isn’t easy.
I recently saw this article which discussed the rate of suicide among first year doctors. It was shocking. That’s all I can say as it left me speechless.
The doctors striking today had a right. They care for our health and wellbeing so we should care for theirs too by supporting the strike and by disagreeing with the proposed changes.
It isn’t fair on us as citizens who rely upon doctors to support us when we are unwell. But it really isn’t fair on doctors.
My thoughts go out to every doctor who did strike today.
They thought about themselves as well as others today and that’s a step in the right direction.
They showed passion for their profession by caring about society and the citizens who need their help every minute of every day!
Did you support the strikes today? What do you think of the proposed changes to the contract? Let me know below or on my social media accounts.