I shouldn’t have worn heels.

I’ve been here for ten minutes, and it’s like I’ve partaken in a bloody triathlon.

The doctors here are used to it. They’re used to this rushing, the bleeping from bleepers, those consultants consulting them, that sickly, stomach turning feelings they’re getting from exhaustion. They’re used to it, and they STILL love doing it the following day, for the following week, possibly even, for the rest of their time here.

One of the junior doctors here at Princess Royal University Hospital (who wishes to remain unnamed) is keeping busy. By 2’oclock, she’s seen the best part of 30 patients admitted in the day before, she’s organised investigations, started treatment plans for those well enough to leave, reported this back to the one consultant on the ward and, to top it all off, she’s got a case of the sniffles.

She’s working on what could have been a day off. It’s a Saturday, she could be watching Christmas movies with the other half; getting a roast made by her mum, sniffling into a Kleenex and catching up on EastEnders, but she’s doing what she spent 4 years of medical school passionate about. She’s taking lives in her hands, and she’s making them healthier.

‘I like to see the families as much as possible, updating them on what’s been happening. There are a lot of families with members in A&E, it’s important they’re updated on what’s been occurring overnight, especially as the majority of patients we get on this Acute ward are of an elder population; they tend to rely on their families quite a lot.’

She’s getting paid for this, naturally, but if the government’s new medical contract gets put in place, she’s preparing for 25% cuts on all weekend and evening work, considered to be ‘unsocial hours.’ These arrangements have been put in place to counteract the 11% pay rise for traditional working hours.

‘It’s perverse to say you need more people working the weekend when this contract rewards people who don’t work out of hours. By increasing basic pay and cutting out of hours, we’re essentially losing out on the benefits. The people that are actually benefiting from these pay rises are those in say Dermatology and Public health work, pretty much those who don’t work out of hours anyway. If you want a contract that sensitises 7 day work, this is not it. It’s making it cheaper to have people working on the weekend, but not actually benefitting those working it.’

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has caused quite an uproar amongst those affected by cuts and changes. Some of the largest concerns are centred on the future of the NHS.

‘It will stop people from backgrounds where they can be supported by their parents to go to medical school, as they won’t see it as a liable career. They’re right. It’s not. If you’re capable of getting the grades, why would you go into a career where you can’t pay off your student debt? The pays getting worse and worse, pushing those interested in the medical profession to move into something more lucrative.

‘As for the people already committed to studying, they’re likely to see more attractive medical career prospects abroad. 40% go abroad anyway, I’d be surprised if that number didn’t increase; and once they’re gone, they definitely won’t want to come back.’ 

Recent official NHS figures, outlining the arrival of the latest new recruits in the junior doctor’s field, show that acute medicine is still dangerously short of the new doctors it so desperately needs, as are elderly medicine, general practice, renal medicine and psychiatry. Its proof we are driving away the much needed medical team, sending them to better opportunities abroad, whilst far bigger bills accumulate here; quite unnecessary, avoidable bills, had we treated these doctors with more respect.

‘What does it say about the relationship between us? It shows a massive lack of respect, they don’t value the work we do and that’s honestly how we all feel, we feel demoralised, we feel like the work we do doesn’t get noticed.

That’s the way we feel.


Find out more here at: http://bma.org.uk/



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Hayley Sigrist