Junior doctor England

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The dispute: what junior doctors are saying

We asked trainees in England from a range of specialties why they feel so strongly about the contract the Government is threatening to impose


London core medical trainee 1 in acute medicine Sanna Waseem

Every decision I make can impact on a patient’s health and well-being as well as my personal and professional life.

Being forced to make such decisions when physically and emotionally drained is not only unsafe, but also unethical.

There is no justification for taking away a mechanism that protects patients and doctors.

Research, working abroad, gaining varied experience, taking time to be certain of our specialties and even becoming parents all make for well-rounded consultants.

Patients often benefit from time we take out as much as we do. Take away this option and everyone loses out.

The conveyor belt approach to training will rob our profession of the rich and varied experience that makes excellent doctors.


Newcastle ST6 in ENT Paula Bradley

The Government thinks that extending standard hours will stop doctors being ‘incentivised’ to work slower.

I know of no doctor who works more slowly for the prospect of getting paid more.

Patient safety is our priority. If keeping patients safe means staying late at work, doctors will do this.

Extending standard hours and removing safeguards means doctors will work longer hours with no consequences for the hospital trusts.

They will be tired — and tired doctors are not safe.

Stretching an already stretched service will have dire consequences on the staff, their morale, and ultimately patient care and safety.

Changing terms and conditions for doctors will threaten recruitment and retention.

There are better terms and conditions elsewhere in the world for doctors.

UK-trained medical school graduates will leave — they already are doing so.


London ST3 in emergency medicine Jasia Khan

It’s unfair to change the definition of unsociable hours and this seems to be singling out our profession.

What is unsociable hours for one profession should apply to all.

Often the premium pay is an accurate reflection of the care we provide during these hours.

The people making these cuts have no idea. The removal of safeguards results in tired and burnt-out doctors.

Being financially penalised for taking time out of training is ludicrous.

Who’s going to want to do research?

What about those of us who want families?

It seems discriminatory to me.


Leeds ST2 in paediatrics Amanda Friend

My biggest concerns centre on the removal of safeguards against unsafe hours.

The proposed contracts include rotas with 23 hours ‘off’ between finishing night and commencing day shifts and there are no incentives to prevent doctors working stretches of over 12 days or seven night shifts without a rest, despite evidence that these shift patterns would lead to dangerously tired doctors.

Tired doctors make mistakes, decision making is less sharp and procedural ability deteriorates.

As an academic trainee, I worry that the proposed financial penalties for those who go ‘out of programme’ will put off many potential researchers from doing PhDs, for example.

I would never consider striking over pay alone.

It is the potentially negative impact on patient safety that worries me, and a concern that these changes are an attempt by the Government to discredit the NHS and bring about privatisation.


London ST5 in gastroenterology Philip Smith

It’s clear that the Government is trying to get junior doctors to work longer hours by removing the safeguards, but paying them less in the long term once the ‘pay protection’ expires in 2019.

Most people realise that when you’re working more hours for the same money, it’s a pay cut.

If Jeremy Hunt wants a seven-day NHS, he needs to be able to pay for it.

Last week, I was supposed to be working 9am to 5pm, but I came in at 7am and left at 7pm or 8pm.

I was working four extra hours I wasn’t being paid for every day. 

As gastroenterologists, we have to deal with people who are bleeding or sick.

We don’t have to work extra hours and come in early — we do it because we care about our patients.

The safeguards were there for good reason — because they stopped doctors from working excessive hours.

Without these, I would have to work even more excessive hours.

This would lead to me being tired — and when people are tired they make mistakes. 



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