THE BLOG

Jeremy Hunt - Be Careful What You Wish For

20/07/2015 16:08 BST | Updated 19/07/2016 10:59 BST

When I was a fresh faced junior doctor at Whipps Cross Hospital, I remember waking up at 5 am after 4 hours sleep on weekend mornings to get the patient list ready so I could guide the Consultant who would arrive at dawn for our weekend ward round.

You daren't not be ready to run around the hospital from 7 am till after midnight or face the wrath of the hospital's most senior surgeon.

Armed with what Jeremy Hunt would seemingly have distain for, nothing but my 5 years of knowledge from a London medical school and an elective gained in the Emergency Room at Harvard medical school I awoke with a sense of first year excitement and sheer terror of my new responsibility. This was on a weekend by the way.

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"Author On Call as a Junior Surgeon"

Lunch was a welcome 30 minutes in the canteen where my doting parents on one occasion visited to see me to say hello and bring me a bagel or two. Jewish mothers and all that jazz.

And we were interrupted by the constant bleep of the erm "bleep".

So why am I telling you all this?

Because what made everything come together on the weekend was the team I worked with the nurses, the junior doctors, the Specialist Registrar and the Consultant. These were impressive and smart people doing a job they were enthusiastic about.

In one team you had over 100 years of medical and or surgical knowledge. Doing emergency operations well into 1 am made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up as we were actually saving lives.

Moving onto neuro-endocrinology as a junior houseman at St. Bart's, the meetings were akin to attending a round robin of NASA's central command. My jaw was regularly pinned to the floor as Professor debated with Professor actioning life changing decisions for patients that had come from around the world to have their lives saved by literal medical geniuses - there are no other words for them. The smartest people I have ever met were and still are hard at work in the NHS.

As my friend from medical school put it to me this week in discussing Jeremy Hunt's ignorance to what doctor's are doing already - made famously poignant over the weekend with the hashtag "#ImInWorkJeremy" the public may not understand why doctors are so upset by this Health Secretary.

Hunt has treated us with distain, he thinks we are work shy and over paid as if becoming a doctor came easy to us all and we clock off every day to the golf course. Some anachronisms seemingly never die.

Now I want to make it clear I have it relatively good I am a new Consultant and a Psychiatrist which makes a huge difference, I get 3 percent added to my salary to be do 24 hour on calls from home. This isn't about me.

This is about my NHS colleagues, the nurses, doctors, OT's, radiographers and physiotherapists to name just a handful who work harder than most people I have ever met.

I take my hat off to you all. As an NHS Consultant I know what you do even if the health secretary seemingly doesn't. I know what it took to gain your skill set, to go through your training and the commitment you have to miss birthday's and Christmas's to be at work through the night.

My colleague calls me, he's an anaesthetist, "What do you reckon? Should I try to get a bit of sleep in my car or on the couch tonight?"

He is a gate-keeper between life and death. Trust me If you want someone that will save your life, you better have a well rested and skilled intensivist around.

But there is no on call room for him to catch a few hours rest. A doctor allowed to get their head down at 4 am for a bit of rest on a rare break? Don't be silly.

So keep hitting us with insults Jeremy and you will face the biggest talent exodus the NHS has ever seen. Consultants napping on couches? Things are already at crisis point.

My friend waxes lyrical about where he is thinking of moving his family to.

He would not be the first. Three of my friends have left the UK for better working conditions in places that recognise their hard work and talent. America, Australia and Canada. And we are all the poorer for it.

To the public reading this we want the same thing you do, and all of us are all potential patients.

Did your parents ever say to you "Jeremy, people don't like you and it's not because of what you say, it's how you say it!"

Although in this case it is a bit of both.

Keep telling us that we have spent decades training, dealing with life and death, taking post graduate specialist exams, working nights and weekends but we still don't work hard enough.

Doctors already work 7 days a week Jeremy, you just want them to do it for longer hours and for less money, let's call a spade a spade. But we are already at breaking point.

Don't tell us we must face a new contract negotiation and if we don't agree to it then it will be imposed on us. That is not a negotiation as far as this stupid doctor can see.

Cut our pay whilst you take a pay rise and see how far you can break us, and I can tell you where you will end up.

Because like my friends that have left the NHS we do have a choice.

Whilst you continue to hit medics with what feels like a collective punishment for your scare mongering about "mid-staff" you will be fire fighting 100 "mid-staff" scenarios when you witness the talent exodus to come and the remaining quality of doctors who remain to be bullied further into your "seven day working week plan."

So be careful what you wish for Jeremy.