Last November the junior doctors strike was called off. Apparently it was a 'victory for common sense' via Jeremy Hunts twitter page. Insultingly, Hunt appears to be in the eyes of the public, the saving grace of this doctors strike epidemic. The irony of using the words common sense in the same conversation as the desired contract changes Hunt has proposed for junior doctors is laughable. Common sense would not have proposed an average working week of 90 hours. Common sense would not have scared the nation into believing that doctors do not work on the weekends. The word common and sense poignantly have taken no part in Jeremy Hunt's proposed ideals for our junior doctors and our next generation of health care professionals.
The ironic thing is that there has been no real news coverage about the strikes, apart from the BBC declaring that the imminent strike would kill off patients left right and centre. If the TFL plan a strike because of hours and pay you never hear the end of it from news coverage and social media. Most people will not have noticed [due to this lack of media exposure] that the doctors are going on strike again today. My sister will not be able to attend the strike do to the fact that she is working a 12-hour night shift. The fact is that doctors would not strike if there was a threat to any of their patients and that is the truth. There was no threat of death with this strike, just as there was not on the last one. Just because the junior doctors are striking [with the support from their consultant peers] does not mean the hospital floors will be an empty post-apocalyptic nightmare.
My sister is a junior doctor. She is caring, selfless, hilarious and completely professional. She has entered her career to help people and not because she is money grabbing and power hungry. She loves the NHS. Ask any doctor and they will probably say the same thing. To prepare for the strike, her peers and their BMA representatives worked extra unpaid hours to make sure that their patients were in the best hand over care and spent time re-scheduling non-urgent patient appointments. Four hours of her time were spent [unpaid] making sure that her patients got the best care while her colleagues go on strike. The news flash that you will not see with this strike is that ALL patients are still being looked after by the emergency care junior doctor team, just like they would on the weekend - i.e. there is going to be no threat of impending death and empty hospital corridors.
What is disgusting is that my sister is 25-years-old and many days she runs a ward by herself with a registrar or consultant to contact if she needs help with particularly unwell people. That is an enormous amount of stress to put onto a young person and an enormous amount of responsibility. She literally has life and death on her watch. Who else can say the same about their jobs? What Jeremy Hunt is doing is stretching out whatever resources is left of the NHS and is flushing them down the toilet.
If you were applying for a job would the occupation attributes of a 90-hour week, with no protection from your employers to prevent them imposing unsafe working hours on you and unsociable weekly and weekend hours' sound appealing to you? Would erratic rotas with fixed leave and holiday so that you can't actually see your family or holiday like a regular person and cuts to your pay, especially if [god forbid] you want to have a family be tempting to you in any way? I didn't think so. What Jeremy Hunt needs to realise is that doctors hardly have any time for themselves as it is. A day off on Tuesday. Brilliant. That is hardly enough time to re-charge or do anything productive. Doctors who are parents usually have two to three weekends a month to see their children under the current contract, and sometimes even a weekday evening before they go to bed on the rare occasion they finish work on time. With this new contract, there will be no bedtime stories or goodnight kisses, with only one day a week that will guarantee them the privilege of spending time with their children. Despite the fact all they'll probably want to do is sleep, as they may have already worked up to 90 hours in the preceding days. There is no consideration for the fact that this is already an overstretched and overworked workforce.
What they want from you Jeremy Hunt is common sense, and I mean real common sense. Would you apply to the job with the contracts you are planning Jeremy? I know that I am not a doctor, but I can see what is fair and what isn't, and this is not. Stop portraying doctors as over paid, thrill seeking, holiday junkies who don't work weekends and start actually telling the truth. David Cameron said that he was 'disappointed' in the junior doctor's decision to strike. Well I am disappointed that he has let it come to this with the intention of privatising our NHS. Let's bring common sense back to the table shall we Jeremy? Our health care professionals need it more than a 90 hour working week.