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What time is valuable to you? Is it a Saturday afternoon with your friends? A Monday evening tucking your kids into bed? A Wednesday evening going to play sports?
Money can’t buy time, but how would you feel if your normal working hours could be extended into those times with no added compensation? Well, that’s the plate we’ve been offered.
The Doctors and Dentists Review Body has recommended a huge extension of what are considered standard working hours, or ‘plain time’, from 7am to 7pm, Monday to Friday, to 7am to 10pm, Monday to Saturday. An increase from 60 to 90 hours. Far more than half the week, in the DDRB’s analysis, consists of normal hours, with no extra recognition for them.
If those hours cost the same to the employer, then there is no incentive to keep a similar shift pattern to that which is present, rotas could become more extreme and you may find yourself missing more evenings or Saturdays.
Only hours outside of this would class as ‘unsocial’. I value my time at 9pm on a Saturday very differently to 9am on a Wednesday. Working 9pm any evening is unsocial, especially on a Saturday. This was recognised in our current contract, but the DDRB recommends a dilution of the value of our precious time, something money cannot replace.
As I am drawing to the end of my F1 year, I can confidently say I love my job. However, I already finish late to ensure my patients receive the best care I can, come home and then have more work to do to maintain my e-portfolio, work on quality improvement projects, teaching and research, and soon I’ll be revising for exams. What little time I have left is of great value to me; something which is far from recognised by the DDRB. We all know that being a doctor extends into our life, and means we already miss important occasions for our loved ones, (unless you somehow manage to wrangle a swap). As I look on towards the rest of my junior doctor years, imagining those being considered as normal social expected working times, my heart sinks, and the future looks bleak.
Morale is already low – what catastrophic effect will this have?
This is one of a series of blogs by junior doctors on the impact of the DDRB contract recommendations. Now tell us what you think…
Melody Redman is a foundation 1 doctor
Read Junior Doctor Committee co-chair Kitty Mohan's blog on the DDRB recommendations
Visit the BMA website for more information and updates on junior and consultants contract
Plenty of other people work on Saturdays and in the evening with no 'added compensation' - retail staff, hospitality etc.. It doesn't necessarily mean you will be working any more hours, or even more Saturdays..
Catherine, with the greatest respect, I think a weekend shift on the acute medical take or ward cover eclipses the stress and responsibility that someone might have to take on in retail or hospitality.
Besides, how many people in those jobs have paid £30,000 to train themselves? Do they have to sit exams/courses that cost over £500 each?
Catherine, having family who work in retail and being a doctor myself I really have to say that the statement you have made comparing the two in terms of hours and compensation really doesn't add up. How many retail staff work 12 days in a row as part of their saturday or sunday shift?
The reality is we will end up working more saturdays and sundays than we already do as they intend on staffing weekends the same as weekdays without hiring extra individuals. That unfortunately does mean working more hours for less money. How many private sector companies would get away with that?
Yes, I understand what you are saying , of course there is stress and responsibility in a weekend shift, I have done many myself! But that is what we have spent all that money training to be able to do isn't it? People who work in retail have not and they also are unlikely to be earning a similar salary to a doctor.
I don't know how many retail and hospitality staff work 12 days in a row, I am sure some do, and many of them work EVERY single Saturday and/or Sunday, so that seems pretty anti-social to me.
Catherine - you simply cannot compare a doctor with 6 years of university education, 2 or 3 degrees and several years post-graduate training with people who work in retail (who have presumably have far fewer formal qualifications). You are essentially saying that all that medical education and training is worth nothing extra.
Can you name me one other profession in which highly educated people work anti-social hours for no augmented pay?
According to the DDRB paper retail assistants get +27% out of hours on weekdays and +50% on Sundays. Local Government employees get +33% and +100% respectively. How is it fair to give doctors nothing extra?
Thanks for your comments. It's really important to hear your views.
Catherine - I feel I'm going to have to respectfully disagree. Whilst I have not worked in retail, I did spend 2 years working evenings and Saturdays as a chambermaid in a big hotel on minimum wage. The pressure of having to have 12 rooms ready by 2pm is incomparable to the pressure of being a doctor. If I was tired at work in the hotel, I may be slower making beds and cleaning toilets. If I am tired as a doctor, people's health and sometimes their life is at stake. Once over the two years, I worked 12 days in a row to cover a colleague, and I remember my other colleagues were absolutely horrified! However, no doctor is surprised at hearing you're in the middle of a 12 day stint.
When I ever had to work extra as a chambermaid, I was compensated to the very hour I worked. I nearly always left at the expected time and I had no portfolio to maintain, no research to do with it; work was left at work. What a contrast!
I love being a doctor. I happily do lots medical things in my free time. I am so glad I was able to go through medical school, despite the debt, time and everything that goes with it. However, I want a sustainable future for our NHS and my colleagues.
I think the types of work we are talking about are totally different, the responsibility of being on a doctor is far greater, and this is an unacceptable recommendation.
To be truly honest, I have seen people who work in big shopping malls such as westfield in London, Trafford centre etc complain that they have to work till 10pm... Well , go on crib!!! Those guys still go home on time sometimes before time as well. And they get to come late to work the next day or get the next day off sometimes. How many of us doctors get that luxury. Oh and to top things, they say that we get paid more.. Check your figures aain and then decide who gets paid what and how much more.. and as people before me have pointed out correctly.. we have patient's lives at stake .. not the whims of a shopper with a big fat wallet ...