This morning I met with Junior Doctors at Kings College Hospital to talk about the Governments proposed changes to their contracts.
My article following the visit:
“A paediatrician, an anaesthetist, a psychiatrist, a geriatrician, a medical registrar...these, and many others are the doctors that at any time we or our families need. And we should be falling over ourselves in gratitude to the junior doctors who work at Kings. Recently some of the junior doctors at Kings broke away from their vital work to tell me how Jeremy Hunt's imposition of a new contract will mean their pay is cut. We gathered in the board room, but unlike when I meet the local managers, their phones were ringing and their bleeps going constantly demanding their attention. The doctors I met had studied for years, at our top universities, and then carried on training and studying so that they can give the very best care and contribute to research. We are lucky to have them but Hunt risks us losing them. Australian hospitals are luring many away - so are pharmaceutical companies.
What will happen to research if to do it they face a pay cut? Why should they? How many of them can rely on their partners income to make up for their fall in pay? Where are we going to get the consultants for the future if the junior doctor’s morale continues to be crushed? It’s not fair on the doctors who've studied so hard and care so much. It risks serious doctor shortages in the future which will cost more in agency fees and incentives for overseas doctors, let alone in the cost to patient care. And the way the contract discriminates against those who work fewer hours - usually women with children - is surely in breach of the Equality Act. I'm calling on the Equality and Human Rights Commission to investigate this. And I'm asking Jeremy Hunt to meet these doctors who spoke to me. He should see for himself their anguish for their patients, their concern for the NHS and their dismay at how badly he is treating them. I'm totally on their side, so are local people and he should be too.“