The day finally arrived which the Junior Doctors never expected to happen, and which they didn’t want – a day of action to express their frustration at the Government’s proposals to accommodate weekend working.
This action is not about pay. It is about safeguarding Doctors, and protecting the public. The proposals seem to be based on some false premises and worrying elements of ideology.
Jeremy Hunt has quoted previously the wish to have a 7 day NHS and supporting his policy is the report that apparently demonstrates that a patient is more likely to have a negative outcome if they are admitted at the weekend. The reality behind this is that:
- for the purposes of the survey a weekend included admissions on Friday/Saturday/Sunday/Monday ( 4 days)
- people were only included in the report if they had been in hospital for more than a month ( the average stay is 12 days so skews the sample to those who are most ill)
- the people who are admitted over weekends tend to be the most ill ( i.e. urgent cases that cannot wait to visit GP)
this means that the statistics are heavily biased towards patients who are going to have negative outcomes, and isn’t limited to just Saturday and Sunday.
As many Doctors have pointed out, for months, the NHS is already a 7 day service. To create a service which is totally transparent to the notion of a weekend, requires all of the complimentary functions, including those outside of the NHS, e.g. Social services also to be structured on a 24/7 basis. The week is naturally profiled for heavier Junior Doctor support during weekdays. Based on current resource levels, they are already stretched working shift lengths that leave them exhausted and risking the safety of patients.
Taking existing Doctors off weekday shifts and putting them on a weekend pattern will just create more stress in the week – unless more Doctors, and supporting functions, are employed. Additionally Junior Doctors require continuing professional guidance by their medical seniors as part of their development and our safety. This would need to be managed if delivered over a standard 7 day pattern.
Currently, there are safeguarding processes in place that ensure that Junior Doctors are not “coerced” into working unacceptable hours. This process will be removed in the new proposals. I asked one Doctor whether it would be possible to self-safeguard in conjunction with the management, or was this “pie in the sky” – cautiously she felt that it really was just “pie in the sky”.
In addition to the documented proposals which are causing great concern, there are suspicions that there is a covert ideological agenda around the privatisation of the NHS beyond that which is evident at the moment. Only time will tell on this one, and a robust opposition is necessary to highlight where this starts to become a reality.
The few Junior Doctors that I have spoken to, or heard speak, struck me as consummate professionals. Their viewpoint is well-articulated, considered, and reasoned; it is one that is easy to respect.
If I was in the position of being responsible for this group of people and the vast majority were expressing consistent criticisms of the proposal ( 98% voted for action out of 76% of the population – which meets the Government’s latest criteria for strike action) then I’d like to think I would listen.
If someone doesn’t listen to you, they either do not respect your opinion, or they don’t care – which is it My Hunt!?
Categories: Derby News Comment