Junior doctors work long hours and these proposals will remove the safety limits that ensure doctors are not over tired. Being fatigued and stressed impairs judgement and increases the chances of mistakes. Would you want a tired and over worked doctor making life and death decisions about you or your family? Neither would we!
Your safety is being put at risk. My greatest fear is that nothing changes, the NHS slowly crumbles, stretching more and more, doctors too tired to concentrate, patient care suffering, safety put at risk. You as a patient know this from your experiences every day. If the NHS is going to survive for the future, all of us - patients, public, professionals and politicians, need to accept that it isn't working. We need an honest discussion about its future. We need to start talking.
Fundamentally I believe that we as patients must understand our responsibility to respect the free access we have to our GP, practice nurse, midwife or other primary care based professional. We expect their professionalism and access to them in a timely manner - it's not a lot to ask that we should also keep our side of the bargain too.
I was politically ambivalent about the general election. Like a lot of NHS staff, I was torn between knowing that things were bad in the health service, especially in general practice, but equally knowing that a change of government would inevitably mean some sort of re-branding, reorganisation and changes of priorities. I knew an NHS on its knees already wouldn't cope with that. When the result came in, it was going to be more of the same. No massive changes, just slogging on trying to get the government to listen. I was totally wrong.
A truly seven day NHS is something we should aspire towards. I don't disagree with that. But as with everything else, it is the timescale and funding which is wholly unrealistic and will inevitably lead to harm to patients. Can he not remember the waiting time breaches of last winter? Is he ignoring the GP practices closing across the country? This is not doctors wanting a lifestyle choice. Our first role is to act in our patients best interests, as an advocate for them. Why does Mr Hunt refuse to listen to the profession, both at national and grass roots level? Why is he hell bent on chasing headlines and not on improving care and patient safety?
Being a GP isn't about glamour. It's not about high tech equipment. It's not about cutting edge research, or shouting "Get me some paracetamol, stat!". There is very little drama. It's about the challenge of dealing with everything in a tiny amount of time. Of having the skills to develop an instant rapport with a patient you may have never met before...
When a photograph of an emergency room doctor grieving for a 19-year-old patient was posted online recently, it went viral with thousands of shares, likes and comments. Most of this stemmed from the fact that doctors are not known for showing personal emotions. Like all healthcare staff we deal with difficult, sometimes hugely distressing scenarios every day. We have all had moments like that doctor. Where a patient has affected us so profoundly, we cannot hold it together and need some space. This is a tribute to just five of the patients that have taught me to be a better doctor. Identifying details have been changed to preserve patient anonymity.
I believe wholeheartedly in consultation, engagement, empowerment, and ownership. But not as just buzz words to drop into meetings. Rather, I believe in what these words stand for at their best: genuine conversations between practitioners, partners, patients, policy makers and even politicians; shared insights into what works and what needs work; and a commitment to agreeing and delivering change, and all that that entails.