If you continue without changing your settings, we’ll assume you’re happy to receive all cookies from the BMA website. Find out more about cookies
When you visit any web site, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. This information might be about you, your preferences or your device and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to. The information does not usually directly identify you, but it can give you a more personalised web experience.
Because we respect your right to privacy, you can choose not to allow some types of cookies. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings. However, blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer.
These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems. They are usually only set in response to actions made by you which amount to a request for services, such as setting your privacy preferences, logging in or filling in forms.
You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not then work. These cookies do not store any personally identifiable information.
These cookies are required
These cookies allow us to know which pages are the most and least popular and see how visitors move around the site. All information we collect is anonymous unless you actively provide personal information to us.
If you do not allow these cookies we will not know when you have visited our site, and will not be able to monitor its performance.
These cookies allow a website to remember choices you make (such as your user name, language or the region you're in) and tailor the website to provide enhanced features and content for you.
For example, they can be used to remember certain log-in details, changes you've made to text size, font and other parts of pages that you can customise. They may also be used to provide services you've asked for such as watching a video or commenting on a blog. These cookies may be used to ensure that all our services and communications are relevant to you. The information these cookies collect cannot track your browsing activity on other websites.
Without these cookies, a website cannot remember choices you've previously made or personalise your browsing experience meaning you would have to reset these for every visit. In addition, some functionality may not be available if this category is switched off.
Our websites sometimes integrate with other companies’ sites. For example, we integrate with social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, to make it easier for you to share what you have read. These sites place their own cookies on your browser as a result of us including their icons and ‘like’ or ‘share’ buttons on our sites.
As a junior doctor, I’ve been spat upon, assaulted, drenched in blood and doused in excrement. There isn’t a bodily fluid with which I’m not intimately acquainted, nor an expletive I haven’t heard. I’ve faced patients who are psychotic, seething with rage, deranged with pain, blind with grief or sometimes simply blind drunk.
Yet none of this has ever provoked a fraction of the frustration that now consumes me.
Today, imposition has been met with escalation. We are all — patients, doctors, Government and NHS — standing on the brink of a precipice.
If ever there was a time for you and your ministers in the Department of Health to cease posturing and start talking, now, prime minister, is that time.
No dispute is so toxic, so intractable, that words cannot defuse it. You owe your electorate your words.
For while you’ve been standing mute on the sidelines, the men you chose to appoint as your custodians of the NHS have used language so incendiary, so offensive, your silence on this matter is incomprehensible.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt promotes the branding of junior doctors as ‘militants’, while the health minister Ben Gummer, chose this week to describe us as ‘radicals’.
You, prime minister, are an Eton and Oxford-educated man: I do not expect the nuances of language to be lost on you.
The insinuations of your appointees, in a post-9/11 world, could not clearer. Your turning a blind eye to their smearing of young doctors is the antithesis of leadership.
And you wonder why we feel driven to an inescapable escalation of industrial action? Have you never been struck by the gross inappropriateness of your ministers linguistically linking doctors to terrorists?
We are not, I assure you, the enemy. We chose our careers in medicine to help, not harm people. The marshal imagery your appointees so relish diminishes you as much as it does them, and the time to rein them in is long overdue.
Perhaps the deepest irony in this sorry debacle is how very much doctors and Government agree on.
No one is more strongly committed to a genuinely seven-day NHS than us, the junior doctors on the frontline of delivering services at weekends.
Your problem, prime minister, is not our intransigence. It is your flat refusal to fund your manifesto soundbite.
So deep runs your commitment to patient safety at weekends, you aim to achieve it entirely ‘cost-neutrally’, without one single extra pound of expenditure.
To those of us who practise evidence-based medicine, I’m afraid that looks like sophistry.
Your fundamental problem, after last year’s unanticipated majority in Commons, is that your soundbite has turned to bite its own creator’s hands.
You actually have to deliver. If ‘radical’ means standing up for our patients against the nonsense that seven days can be delivered for the price of five, then you face 54,000 of us.
The cheaper your shots — the more lurid your language — the greater real doctors’ resolve to stand firm against spin doctors.
Perhaps I may I make a ‘radical’ suggestion? Instead of condoning more fire and brimstone from your renegade appointees in the DoH, put a temporary brake on imposition.
You want a seven-day NHS, we want a seven-day NHS. All you need to end this — to stop at a stroke next month’s industrial action — is to flesh out your soundbite with evidence, so that contract negotiations can recommence from a new, meaningful starting point that reflects the funding and staffing required from rhetoric into safely staffed reality. Is that really so very militant?
Prime minister, it’s time to get real about a seven-day NHS. There is almost nothing junior doctors want more than to avoid next month’s strike.
But the long-term threat to our patients of an uncosted, unstaffed, seven-day scam makes it impossible for us not to take action.
If you understood the realities of the NHS frontline, you would know that junior doctors are stoics, not radicals.
To echo the words of president of the Royal College of Physicians Professor Jane Dacre, the escalation of our industrial action is junior doctors’ stoical, imperturbable expression of truth to power. Please listen and please let’s talk.
Rachel Clarke is an ST2 in infectious diseases in Oxford
I don't even mind if Mr Hunt et al stays in post, what we need is a solution. That will only come from above these minions.
Until recently doctors and a huge mass of the public have blamed Mr Hunt for this mess. The longer the government continues this, the more all will blame the PM!
Excellent piece Rachel.
I would like to commend Dr Rachel Clarke's piece ,it is clear and concise and offers a very straightforward request for the rhetoric /reality gap ,that yawns in all areas of medical practice currently ,to be closed . We, the practitioners at the frontline whether in Primary or Secondary care ,recognise her words as true. It is time for government to talk sensibly to those they want to deliver their soundbites .
SO brilliantly put.
David Cameron - stop hiding in the background and sort this mess out. Put patients first and then put Jeremy Hunt out in the cold.
Man up David.You're making such a complete twit of yourself.
Hear hear Rachel! David Cameron it is time to listen! Stop imposition of this contract and come back to the negotiating table. I also think we should get a formal apology from both Jeremy Hunt and Ben Gummer for comparing us to terrorists! It is both disgraceful and distasteful.
You must all stick together and see this through! If you need proof look at the train drivers and our union ASLEF.
We have good pay & conditions not because we are, as we too are labelled, militant or radical (far from it) but because we support each other and our trade union each and every time.
The government know that many of you are in debt through education fees etc. and are relying on that to break your resolve.
You have the support the vast majority of the general public. Stay united, stand your ground and you will prevail.
"we want a seven day NHS" ??
Rachel,as you know, we already have a "seven day" NHS. We don't need and can't afford a routine 7 day NHS.
Rachel, I am a Joe Soap member of the public who is 100% behind you and our NHS. The likes of Jeremy, David, George & Co are a despicable arrogant bunch of Millionaires with no morals, most of the public can see Junior doctors aren't a greedy bunch just whinging over pay but not all can see the bigger picture or what's coming.! One things for sure the NHS needs to get public support as it's being sold off under the their noses without them even knowing. Back in 2005 a Pamphlet entitled Direct democracy: An Agenda For A New Model Party was put together by Douglass Carswell and co-authored by Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, Daniel Hannan, Greg Clark, David Gauke and Kwasi Kwarteng.
Basically this was a blueprint to replace the NHS with an insurance market system which calls for the private sector to be brought in, Page 78 states ‘Our ambition should be to break down the barriers between private and public provision, in effect denationalising the provision of health care in Britain’ The pamphlet also states “We should fund patients, either through the tax system or by way of universal insurance, to purchase health care from the provider of their choice,”
This is really happening due a changes made to The Health and Social Care Act 2012 which legally abolished the NHS as a public service hence Jeremy not wanting to agree to put patients and junior doctors in a safe working environment, he would rather see the NHS collapse and make believe it was the fault of greedy Junior doctors. Parts of Wiltshire services have been sold off to Virgin, the whole of Devon has been sold off to Virgin and recently Sittingbourne in Kent was sold off to Virgin.
Keep Smiling, and make sure you are registered to vote as they've also changed the right to vote rule in June 2010, you need to make an individual registration as it is no longer legal for the head of the household to do so and that includes voting on the IN or OUT of the EU. Spread the word united we stand.
really well put. Wake up David Cameron and see what is happening to the NHS, how the morale of the professionals who hold it together and always have done with pride, is eroding. Start listening to those who understand the workings of service best
Very well written
I'm an Associate Specialist in psychiatry for many years now, and I believe I am right to say that SAS doctors are 100% behind you. I can feel your frustration in my heart. I never forgot how it felt to be a trainee doctor, too many years ago.
What people need to understand is that the "emergency care" - already fully provided 24/7 is just a fraction of what the NHS means. The large bulk is made of elective surgeries, ENT appointments, GUM clinics, old people having a rheumatology appointment, blind people having their eyes checked, diabetic people needing a follow-up, mothers with babies having an ear infection, cancer patients, kidney failure patients, neurology, cardiology, gynaecology, etc, etc.
All those will now need to be delivered in the weekends, and asking junior doctors to do it is just a drop in the ocean of nurses, radiologists, biologists, porters, cleaners, HCA, that have never been mentioned in this "plan", and for whom the funding is non-existent. No money for them.
Then why all the "imposition of contract"? Simply because doctors will stop receiving extra pay for working weekends, working ~ 80% more, with a (de facto) pay cut of ~ 20%. A simple exercise of getting something for nothing. Actually, of getting something for even less.
The way this was presented in the media, the disgusting spin and language used against our children who train to become our doctors, our carers, is deeply misleading, unfair and not worthy of this country who postures as a "leading" one in the world.
Brilliant. Can you get this into every paper in the uk and to every MP? The public don't understand the reality.