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I am an academic foundation year one working in respiratory medicine. I have recently worked a 12-day stretch, which included four 12-hour on-calls over the weekend.
I am truly devastated by the proposal to extend ‘plain time’, the period of the week paid only at standard rate, from 7am to 7pm, Monday to Friday, to 7am to 10pm, Monday to Saturday.
I already work way above my working hours unpaid, as do many of my colleagues. I value my weekend time above all else. This is the time I socialise with friends and do things with others you can only do at that time.
I would never have worked so hard for all these years with the prospect of these proposals. My health has already suffered with the dedication, stress and long working hours I already do.
I missed my entire Christmas with four night shifts this year and my mental health has suffered due to a combination of stress, poor working conditions and rotas, complete dedication to patients, and overwork. The banding supplement is the only thing that makes this slightly more tolerable. I have also worked regular weekends thus far this year.
With regards to doctors in training, I feel the Government already gets a good deal with the amount of unpaid overtime we work. This is just an abhorrent attack on all our hard work and will result in a further reduction in quality of life for all junior doctors.
I am a 25-year-old with two degrees and research under my belt. As the proposals are set out, I will not be taking up a training post in the UK. I will be looking to move abroad, locum for multiple agencies or change career completely.
This leaves me bitterly disappointed. I wanted to train to become a specialist here. It would simply be a terrible life decision to enter into a contract like this as my quality of life, health and potential earnings would suffer too much as a result.
The Government has already increased our pension contributions and the retirement age. I am also massively indebted to them through my student loan. I will be held completely to ransom, with zero recognition of my contribution to society.
Junior doctors have already taken a huge pay cut recently with the removal of free accommodation. The removal of banding could reduce our salary by thousands of pounds during our foundation years. I have worked all 1A or 1B banded jobs. The pay cut would increase even further as we progress in seniority. This would be in return for sacrificing even more of our precious social time and quality of life.
Our pay is modest at best for the work, contribution, sacrifice and responsibility we make to the general public daily. The medical profession simply cannot let this happen. This is effectively an extreme pay cut 'dressed up' as an improvement to service provision.
I understand the country is indebted. We haven't had a pay rise for well over five years. I'm not asking for more; I would even tolerate a slight pay cut. But these proposals are outrageous and completely disrespectful to our profession. They have the potential to ruin healthcare in the UK — currently a hub of excellence.
Ultimately, patients will suffer as a result. There will be a guaranteed brain drain and reduction in the drive and ambition of an entire young, talented and dedicated workforce.
Jonathan Nicholls was an academic F1 at the time of writing the blog. He is now an F2 in elderly medicine. He works in Leeds.
Visit the BMA website for more information and updates on junior and consultant contracts