Bermondsey and Old Southwark has a large number of people affected harshly by the Tory Government’s plans for junior doctors. Guys and St Thomas, Kings and the wide range of other local NHS services means many local junior doctors are directly affected.
Medical students living locally have also been in touch to outline their concerns about the Government plans. Some gave permission for their comments and concerns to be posted online and a few are below to demonstrate the local strength of feeling on the issue. I will be putting pressure on the Government at every available opportunity to reconsider the plans which would harm junior doctors, patients and undermine the NHS overall.
Over the last few days and weeks I’ve received hundreds more emails – from junior doctors, medical students, patients and members of the public. All have been united in their concern at the Tory Government pushing through regressive and dangerous changes to junior doctor’s contracts. Some of those who gave me permission to use their comments are posted below to give a flavour of the concerns. It is distressing to see some making plans to work abroad. I’ll be asking more questions about the Government’s approach and its potential impact.
“These contracts effect almost all non-consultant grade doctors and I believe the label junior doctors is very misleading. The contracts effect fresh out of medical school 25 year old doctors to 40 year old specialist registrars preparing for their consultant posts. In the majority of specialties, it takes a minimum of 10 years of post-graduate training to become a consultant. Due to the competitive nature of training posts and postgraduate exams many doctors secure their first consultant posts after the age of 40. So these contracts are very wide reaching indeed”
Dr Allan Nghiem
“The medical community who are already stretched, fatigued and demotivated by yearly pay freezes are infuriated and the ramifications are very negative to the NHS.”
It is a significant concern that the BMA have described the proposed contract as ‘unsafe and unfair’ and that the Royal College of Paediatrics has stated that the could be ‘gravely damaging to the health and wellbeing of children’ and ‘adversely affect recruitment, retention and the morale of junior doctors’.
“Instead of being excited about taking the next step in my career, I'm now being told by the government that I deserve a 15% pay cut and that I need to work harder. The Tories are always telling us that people who study hard and work hard should be rewarded. They are lying.
I'm left wondering whether to even choose anaesthetics at all, whether I should even apply this year, or whether I should consider moving to Wales or Scotland (as they aren't imposing the contracts) or even across the world to Australia or New Zealand like so many of my friends have. I have never had these thoughts prior to the contract and I am heartbroken at how we are being treated. I don't want to leave the UK and change my life completely, I don't want to not be a doctor, the NHS doesn't have to be like this, but it's almost as if we're being told to vote with our feet.”
Dr Gemma Summons
“Speaking on a personal note, I am incredibly privileged to be given the responsibility of caring for some of the most vulnerable people in our society, in a system that delivers to the people who need it the most. It would be a tragedy to alienate those who give so much to their vocation, and an even greater one if patients suffer as a result of our tiredness and fatigue, or the worrying trend of junior doctors choosing to leave the NHS.”
Dr Tom Moullaali
Alongside my Labour colleagues I’ve been fighting hard to challenge these changes. I’ve signed Early Day Motion (EDM) 539 which calls for genuine and meaningful negotiations with the BMA as well as the introduction of proper hour safeguards. This motion will also recognise that work on Saturdays and late evenings cannot be considered the same as daytime on a weekday and that junior doctors already work seven days a week for emergency work.
“I am afraid that for me it’s too late. The mere proposal of these terms means that the Government has lost my trust. I am leaving this country to practice abroad. I have already ordered a Certificate of Good Standing (CGS) from the GMC and am looking for work in Australia and South Africa. But it might not be too late to convince the other 1500 junior doctors that have asked for a CGS in the last week to stay.”
Dr Juan Pena
“As a junior doctor, I am very concerned about the government’s plans for changes to the junior doctor contract. The reclassification as weekend and night-time hours as “standard” working hours shows a contempt for junior doctors’ rights to a normal family life outside of work. Additionally, planned reductions in pay and pay progression are grossly unfair.”
Dr Michael Utterson
“Mr Coyle, the whole-scale changes recommended have the power to see junior doctors flocking away from the UK persuaded by better pay, but also by an overwhelming feeling that they simply are not valued in the UK anymore.
The recommendations will drive trained doctors out of the medical profession, resulting not only in a loss of talent and skills but a waste of tax payer money. It costs the tax payer £250,000 to train a medical student to the point of starting work as a doctor, and costs the tax-payer £500,000 to train a doctor from joining medical school to the point of becoming a consultant or GP principal.”
Dr Kitty Mohan
As always I welcome your thoughts on this issue. I’m sure you’ll agree that these testimonies from doctors in our constituency begin to show the very human costs that these contract changes could cause.