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Junior Doctors Hit Back At The Sun After Newspaper Accuses Them Of 'Living The High Life'

10/01/2016 16:14 | Updated 11 January 2016

A story highlighting the "champagne-swilling lavish lifestyles" enjoyed by some junior doctors has led to a rather humorous backlash.

The article, "Moet medics: High life of docs’ leaders who are heading up NHS strike" comes ahead of a series of planned strikes over changes to contracts, the first of which is due to go ahead on Tuesday.

A number of individuals are singled out for "enjoying swanky meals", being "pictured on social media on a beach in front of a helicopter with a champagne glass" and others simply for actually owning their own homes.

The response on Sunday has generally been along the lines of this...

The British Medical Association (BMA) announced three spells of strike action in England after negotiations with the Government ended with no resolution.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said the talks on Monday lasted less than an hour before BMA doctors walked out.

An Acas spokesman said: "Talks have been held under the auspices of Acas between the established team for the BMA and the NHS team.

"A very helpful stock-take of issues took place. Unfortunately, whilst talks have been constructive and will continue next week, the parties are not able to prevent the industrial action planned for January 12 2016."

Hunt has also been accused of "sexing up" a letter that raised concerns over whether striking junior doctors would be available to respond in the event of a Paris-style attack.

In response to the article in The Sun, many pointed towards their extravagant spending habits.

Or their love of fine dining.

Others, their luxurious employment of household servants.

Not to mention their modes of transport.

The backlash comes on the same day Tory MP Mark Field said that junior doctors risk being seen as a "medical workforce" rather than professionals if they go ahead with the planned strikes.

He said: "I don't think they're being driven to strike and what I regret about the strike, actually, is that professionals don't strike.

"If you want to be a medical workforce, go down this route, but if you really want to be seen as a professional and my concern is actually, I'm afraid there are elements within the BMA it's become pretty evident in the last week or so who essentially are manipulating junior doctors, knowing there is a great deal of public sympathy.

"I think junior doctors have been manipulated into going down this route and there are elements in the BMA that are just flagrantly political in what they do."

  • 1 Who are junior doctors?
    Stuart Gleave via Getty Images
  • Junior doctors are those doctors who have graduated from medical school but who are yet to qualify as either a consultant or general practitioner.

    Doctors are required to undertake five years of medical training and to graduate from accredited schools before entering what's known as a foundation period.

    They are then required to work as juniors after the foundation period before ascending to consultant or GP status. This means many doctors do not fully qualify until well into their 30s.
  • 2 Why are their contracts changing?
    Stuart Gleave via Getty Images
  • Demands upon the NHS are increasing, and at the same time, the government wants to move towards a seven-day, out-of-hours health service.

    Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt says planned contract changes will make healthcare more flexible, and more able to adapt to changing levels of demand.

    He has denied the charge that the contracts are specifically designed to lower the wage bill of doctors who'll be forced to work 'out of hours' for no extra pay.
  • 3 Why are people unhappy?
    Stuart Gleave via Getty Images
  • Junior doctors are unhappy at the proposed contract's potential effect on safe working hours.

    They say that introducing new shift patterns and broadening normal working days to include hours up to 10pm may have the effect of increasing tiredness amongst medics.

    The new contracts may impinge on doctors' work-life balance, reduce time spent with their families, and may increase work-related stress. These may affect patient care, some argue.

    Dr Shebby Kamalvand wrote of the hypocrisy of the proposals - the implication that doctors are worth less than they are paid now, but are required to work more flexibly to cope with increased demand.

    The proposals may also make things less fair for those working less than full time and taking parental leave.

    But most of all, the British Medical Association believes the threat of imposition to be entirely unacceptable -- a stumbling block so large it has halted negotiations entirely.
  • 4 What do they want?
    Stuart Gleave via Getty Images
  • According to the British Medical Association, which represents junior doctors in negotiations, they want: "The BMA wants the following concrete assurances in writing from the Government before we can agree to re-enter negotiations:

    - Proper recognition of unsocial hours as premium time - No disadvantage for those working unsocial hours compared to current system - No disadvantage for those working less than full time and taking parental leave compared to the current system - Pay for all work done - Proper hours safeguards protecting patients and their doctors

    The contract proposed by the Government rides roughshod over the best interests of doctors, of patients and of the NHS as a whole. Junior doctors have made it clear that they are not prepared to accept a contract that is unfair and unsafe."
  • 5 Will they get it?
    Stuart Gleave via Getty Images
  • Negotiations are currently at an impasse, with both NHS Employers, which acts on behalf of government, and representatives of junior doctors refusing to budge on the threat of imposition.

    A staged introduction of the new changes could take effect whereby those joining the profession are subject to the new conditions.

    However, this may do little to tackle the dire recruitment and retention of junior doctors after the foundation period.

    Jeremy Hunt is likely to move forward in a way which brings junior doctors back around the negotiating table.
  • 6 And what if they don't?
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  • But there are signs of what will happen should Mr Hunt refuse to yield to doctors' demands.

    Members of his own party have highlighted cases of doctors emigrating from the UK to work as doctors elsewhere. Dr Sarah Wollaston, now a Tory MP and chair of the Commons Health Select Committee, says that her own daughter and eight of her doctor friends have left the UK for Australia.

    And it doesn't look like they'll be alone in leaving Britain. The General Medical Council has received more applications for a Certificate of Currently Professional Status so far this year as it did in the whole of 2014. The Certificate is needed if doctors wish to practice medicine abroad.

    In 2014, the GMC issued 4925 certificates. So far this year it has issued 7468, its latest figures reveal.
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