As we give serious consideration to the concerns of our junior doctors, driven to the edge of industrial action, let's also think about the nurses, cleaners, paramedics, healthcare assistants, porters, consultants, and everyone who makes up the NHS. They deserve decent working conditions, and that includes good mental health.
On 17th October 2015, I marched alongside over 15,000 fellow junior doctors to protest against the government's imposition of a new working contract. With the reverberating plea of "Save our NHS" we finally gathered around the humbling statue of Gandhi at Parliament Square.
In June the government announced a £200million pound cut to the health budget. The cuts were apparently based on projected local authority underspends, so they were not supposed to affect frontline services...
This bill will do nothing for genuine innovation or to improve access to treatments but it will confuse the legislation, remove important protections for patients from reckless practitioners and undermine research. This bill is a reheated version of the half-baked Medical Innovation Bill which was thrown out in the last Parliament. If it was a turkey pie, you wouldn't touch it.
The truth is that there is outrageous discrimination at the heart of the NHS. If you have suspected cancer you have a right to see a specialist within two weeks - and rightly so. But if you are a teenager with an eating disorder - a condition which can kill - you have no such right. It's impossible to justify that.
Hunt is setting himself against the most essential element of our health organisation: its people. They are on the edge, and they deserve nothing but respect.
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!
You broke my heart today. You didn't realise. We were playing together, sat on the floor with your little sister, you holding one of your Elsa dolls. You turned to me and said "Mummy, when I grow up I want to be a doctor". I asked you why, and you said "So I could go to work with you Mummy, then I would see you more". That was the moment.
Jeremy Hunt needs to withdraw the threat of contract imposition, and re-engage in a dialogue with the BMA. He must give an assurance to the BMA that talks will be meaningful, that he is prepared to compromise and that he will put forward a better deal that won't put patients at risk. Now is not the time for high-handed demands which are neither fair nor safe.
This contract change is not only unjustified, but also plain and simply wrong. Goodwill is the oil that lubricates the NHS machine, and junior doctors its fuel. Both are at risk of quickly becoming in short supply.
Every day, I face the obstacle of my own mind. Every day, I face the hurdles of dual-postcode living. Every day, students up and down the country face the same challenges. They meet barrier after barrier to mental health treatment, with the dawning realisation that their mind is not the only traffic light; they see red on every road they follow.
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.
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.
While Cameron may pacify us that there will be no switch to an insurance-based model (although he wants to "turn the NHS into a fantastic business"), ...
What do the next five years hold for the NHS? The pre-election jamboree is quickly evaporating. The promise of billions more in funding now feels like a distant sound-bite. The Daily Telegraph recently set the tone with a front page headline in which Jeremy Hunt declared that the NHS now has enough money and will have to make do. However, all the talk on funding in the election debates completely missed the point.
Around 7,500 nurses from the EU registered to work in the UK last year. This is an increase on the previous year, which was an increase on the year before that. Overseas nurses have played a vital role in the NHS since its inception, and will continue to do so, but clearly when trusts are relying more and more on this form of recruitment something is going wrong.