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I woke at 7pm to an urgent email. 'We're two junior doctors down tonight and one down for Saturday and Sunday.' 'Spectacular,' I groan inwardly. I was about to start another run of night shifts on call — and now we would be more stretched than usual. And usually, we're pretty stretched.I drove to the hospital quickly and received marching orders from the night co-ordinator: South Block. As more and more locums — who often don't know the systems or geography of the hospital — fill expanding gaps in the rota, I find myself continously covering wards. This has arguably less educational value for trainee doctors than other on-call experiences.I am responsible for about 240 patients. As I begin, many jobs flood my 'to do' list. As I step onto the diabetic ward I see a general smattering of different nursing uniforms: agency, temp, casual working. To work, then. An elderly man with a severe chest infection becomes very unwell; an urgent scan is needed for a patient with a bleeding aneurism; a woman needs treating for a bad kidney infection and kidney failure; and negotiations begin with a woman with dementia to convince her to take life-saving antibiotics. The list goes on.Years of training mean that I feel comfortable dealing with most medical emergencies. The question is: how much is this worth.You have heard politicians decrying lazy doctors. You know the Doctors and Dentists Review Body has offered up proposals that remove safeguards against tired doctors and basic pay protections. And of course the Government, in pursuit of 'a seven-day NHS' hasn't been kind enough to give us too many details on how this will be achieved for non-urgent care. This comes on the back of a pay freeze followed by a 1 per cent pay rise, lower than inflation, for NHS staff. In my view this caricature of medics is no more than an elaborate smokescreen to divert attention from an NHS in crisis.We support seven-day working but we don't understand where resources can come from when there are already gaps in our rotas. Without funding or recruitment of more staff, workers will inevitably be taken away from week-time rotas, affecting care Monday to Friday. Naturally we already have a good 24/7 service for urgent care.Many of our home-trained staff are struggling to cope in crumbling hospitals with less funding, fewer services and more pressure. As a result they're leaving. 'Bed pressure' is a distasteful euphemism for 'no beds for sick patients'.Doctors do care. We care so much that many of us work countless hours for free, day or night, for our patients and for the NHS. The nation now needs to decide how much our NHS is worth. And wake up to how the Government is destroying it.Nathan Dempster is a GP trainee in Nottingham
Visit the BMA website for more information and updates on junior and consultant contracts