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I’m feeling furious and betrayed. Tomorrow is my first day as a consultant in a lovely department of nice colleagues in an exciting hospital. My training is fully done, GMC paperwork complete, my last ever training assessment signed off.
Proud mother: tick. New stethoscope: tick. HR paperwork: tick.
This is what I’ve been working towards, with increasing purpose and direction, since I arrived at medical school almost nineteen years ago. This should feel like the culmination of all that hard work; the happy result of all the help and guidance I have received along the way.
But it doesn’t feel that way.
I feel like I’ve turned up at my glorious planned destination, suitcase of hopes in one hand, and found that while I’ve been travelling, they’ve turned it all into a ugly multi-storey car park, and even worse, they’re trying to flog it off.
And now I’m here, poised to join the top tier of my profession. Only it turns out that being a consultant is apparently now no longer something to be proud of attaining. A new contract looms with the threat of imposition supported by misleading premises, and garlanded with dubious promises, and its terms will be worse than now. This isn’t the ladder being pulled up by existing consultants, it’s the government coming along and kicking the ladder away.
My new job is one that attracts bile and lies in the press from the most powerful people in the country. A job that people imply is filled by lazy or venal doctors, too interested in golf or private practice to want to give up a contractual loophole (tricked out of a naïve government negotiation team twelve years ago) and do an honest Sunday’s work.
Why would anyone want to take up a role as a consultant, only to be so egregiously disrespected and openly loathed by ministers and journalists?
Why would anyone want to take on new life-and-death responsibilities, just to be told they are somehow loftily declaring “Let them eat nurse specialists!” when told of people supposedly dying at the weekends for lack of consultant care?
Why would anyone want to shoulder an onerous new workload and a busy on-call rota, only to read the existentially-challenging news that apparently they and their colleagues aren’t really there at weekends or nights at all and need to do more of them?
Why would anyone want to stay in a country where any time a union tries to stick up for its members, the papers scream blue murder and make it sound like we want the moon on a stick rather than just adequate rest and a chance to see our families?
Why would anyone want to be a consultant?
Tomorrow is my first day, and I’m feeling furious and betrayed.
Most people I know are on your side. I do not know anyone who disrespects doctors. But then - I do not know many Tories.. Good luck. And thank you.
Congratulations on becoming a Consultant Tom.
Go and do what you do best.
I know when that minister, journalist or their family need help on a weekend surprisingly enough there will be a Consultant ready to look after them and possibly save their life. Having a Consultant and Medics in the family proves to me how hard you all work with dedication and care.
Go and do what you do best.
Deb Coombe x
Many congratulations Thomas on finally qualifying. That in itself is dedication. I also do not know anyone who has anything but the highest respect for doctors and nurses for their dedication and for the unrealistic hours they are expected to work. Don't give up hope. We all need you and people like you. Good luck with your career.
As a retired Consultant I sympathise with you. In my day we ran the NHS not managers. Thatcher introduced these numskulls and the politicians and press attacked with bitter venom. What a tragedy. The press guttersnipes are looking for a chance to get at people who are well above them in every way. How sick is our society when you read today's headlines about Lords kipping up with Prostitutes and snorting cocaine Our unit was covered by a Consultant every day in the week and we went in to do ward rounds--no problem--Saturday and Sundays included.
The people that matter are the public, the majority dont believe a word these lying toads say. Good luck
The ministers and press are ignorant. The people you work with in the NHS, patients and colleagues, know your worth and that is what truly counts. I've worked in the NHS for 37 years and I can remember days when we moaned about a few consultants who thought they were higher than God, but these days pretty well all consultants are hard working dedicated professionals. (Personally I think many have earned their Sundays off!) I wish you all the very best in your new post.
Keep seeing you in the news and wondering how my student Dad is doing, hope you are on the whole well good luck in the new job
All the best
Claire Johnston (formerly masterman)
You should be very proud of what you have achieved, years of dedication & hard work, The NHS is by far the best, long may it remain.
Thank you so very much for sharing your feelings of understandable fury and betrayal. Your letter is very eloquently written, I felt the depth of your anger and frustration pounding from the page as I read your words, I feel such empathy for your plight. However empathy alone will not salve your wounds, nor will it keep our NHS in tact!!! Perhaps we might see this as the Tories winning a battle, but the war is yet to be fought. You have worked so very, very hard and achieved your dream, well done to you Thomas, I am in awe of your strength, drive, ambition, and courage. To go the extra lengths to push yourself further and further, this sounds like sheer determination that you are possessing, and that is whats needed here. You are now at the beginning once more, the start of your life as a consultant you will be hungry to show your amazing worth!!! Why not use this hunger, determination, and power that you have now in excess and fight a different battle to save the NHS from the plight that could await the whole system. People in your position might just hold the key to turn this thing around, for you are extremely powerful. Without the consultants, surgeons, GPs, nursing staff and every single person giving their time, experience, knowledge and care to the patients, there would be no NHS anyway. You guys are and always have been holding this whole structure up !!!!!! You have all had to face narrow minded idiots who haven't a clue about the intensity of work that you all do,. Your predecessors have fought major battles so many times within the NHS and won them, now its your turn to show us all the solutions needed to beat the government at their own game. Although it might seem that the government and the press view you all as lazy, (How dare they think that way) I can assure you the opposite view is actually what is felt by the general public, You are all very well respected and revered by everyone who has passed over the threshold of NHS hospitals, I include myself in this.
Please allow me to wish you every possible success for your future, you have the power to save many lives, and the NHS . Thank you so much for reading this, We are all in your debt for the work in front of you!!!! Please take good care of you Thomas.
Twice in recent months I witnessed the incredible work done in NhS hospitals. The care was unique although nurses didn't even have time to have a cup of tea or eat their lunch on a 12 hour shift. My family will be forever grateful for all the help, kindness and devotion we received from NHS staff.
I appreciate you, as do millions of others. We cannot be held responsible if the Tories are gobshites! We can only hope that they will be gone soon. Thank you for all of your hard work. X
Get over yourself
Good luck. I have to say this... It's not too late to leave the country. You will be appreciated much more anywhere else in the world. Don't waste your talent and youth!
It's obvious people don't want highly qualified consultants here. One reader responded 'get over yourself'...I've seen many more that are worse. The media is against doctors. The government has an agenda. You worked too hard to be treated like filth. There's no point trying to convince people you are not their enemy. The battle is lost! Leave now before it's too late.
Unfortunately Joe Public have acquired an apathy or have no common sense to understand the game playing that sadly leaves the government and it's lapdog the British Press dismantling our wonderful institution. People like you do have a voice, social media is helping with that, we must support the saving of the NHS as a united group. All the separate groups united would make a big noise, surely this can be achieved with Twitter and Facebook?
Good luck in your new post, you know your patients value your contribution, so do your colleagues, with a government as callous as this, sod em, let's hope they need treatment sometime soon.
Thanks everyone for reading my blog post and for your comments here and on Twitter, etc. I'm glad it has struck a chord with people. The NHS is in such a difficult place at the moment, with people attacking it for various personal and ideological reasons, running it down and then highlighting the inevitable failures that follow. I believe in our NHS and want it to succeed, and I believe that the attacks on our profession that prompted this blogare part of the broader picture of attacks on the NHS itself.