guest blog by Ben Westwood
A junior doctor, Dr Lauren Gavaghan contacted us last October regarding joining in with their opposition to a new contract being proposed for them by the Government.
Tory Health Minister Jeremy Hunt wants to reverse the gains made since the 1975 junior doctor’s strike by removing payment for working unsocial hours, re-classifying ‘social’ hours which are currently 7am to 7pm Monday to Friday, to 7am to 9pm Monday to Friday & from 7am to 5pm on Saturdays.
This would result in a 30% reduction in junior doctors pay (even with the new 13.5% pay rise offered) due to the loss of overtime payment as well as exposing them to the risk of being required to work longer hours as the safeguards/financial penalties preventing this are also being removed.
Junior doctors (every doctor apart from a GP & a consultant is a junior doctor) earn between £22,500 & £30,000p.a which is not high considering that many doctors are in their 30’s & have families. The problem as usual is that the Government does not supply a decent wage.
The doctors worry that tired doctors make mistakes increasing the risk for patients & also that with their working contracts & conditions becoming worse & worse many doctors are leaving the profession & many potential trainees are dissuaded from taking the profession up, building a crisis for the future.
Vivienne agreed to come up with a print for a t-shirt. A black heart, containing the words ‘Support Junior Doctors’ was sent to them.
The public could show their support by sending in a photo of themselves wearing the t-shirt. Several celebrities joined the campaign & were photographed including Dr Who star Peter Capaldi, actors John Hurt & Vanessa Redgrave.
On the recent second junior doctors march on Feb 6th I attended & along with Vivienne & Vanessa, I gave a speech. You can read it below:
I thought that I would speak today as a UK citizen describing what the NHS means to me. Two points.
1. Being state owned means that the NHS has & has had the funds to make it the best health service in the world.
2. It is free & therefore available to everyone, signifying that democracy is working & that society is all inclusive.
Being a doctor is a wonderful occupation in the terms of how much human suffering they ease.
Is there any profession more important than a doctor? Think about that when you are sick or your bones are broken.
It is disgraceful that doctors are treated with such disrespect that their working conditions & life outside their profession is made more & more difficult. It is also hardly an incentive to recruit the doctors of the future for which we will all eventually suffer.
We want a good a wage & as good working conditions for our Junior Doctors.
You can’t run a health service for profit.
The government seems to believe that a private company can run the NHS.
The only way that the NHS could be demolished & replaced with a private profit system is by artificially undermining its credibility & its reputation.
The easiest way to do this is by underfunding it.
We thank the Junior Doctors for their protest to save the future of our NHS & we want our government to support them.
We need more doctors & fair wages for our future safety.