Junior doctors row: BHRUT doctor explains why he’s fighting Jeremy Hunt’s new NHS contract
- Credit: Archant
“Patient safety will be put at risk” warned 20,000 junior doctors protesting against proposed changes to their contracts in central London on October 17.
Simon Fleming, 32, an orthopaedic registrar at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust, was among them.
He said: “The new contract changes take away safeguards that stopped doctors from working unsafe hours.
“It’s the world’s most short-sighted decision because it puts patients’ safety at risk and it’s the opposite of what we work towards in the NHS.”
Currently doctors receive a higher rate of pay when working outside of 7am to 7pm Monday to Friday.
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The new deal would extend the “normal” working hours to 7am to 10pm Monday to Saturday.
Simon said he is worried that the extension of “normal” working hours will result in the NHS taking advantage of the lower rate of pay by asking doctors to work longer shifts.
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But, Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the proposed contract would benefit junior doctors by reducing their maximum hours of work from 91-hours-a-week to 72.
The British Medical Association, the trade union for doctors in the UK, opposes the contract.
It has said that if introduced junior doctors will have to work longer hours, under extra pressure while being paid less. Changes it claims will put patient safety at risk.
The proposal is a step towards the government’s aim of patients having access to doctors seven-days-a-week.
An ambition that saw doctors tweet pictures with the #imatworkjeremy in an effort to highlight their working hours,
He said: “Patients should already know that they can come to an NHS hospital on a Sunday morning at 3am for urgent care and they will receive treatment.
“The hospital is fully staffed for the delivery of urgent care, the lights are on and everyone there is working to make you and hundreds of other people better.”
Simon also raised concerns that junior doctors’ breaks would be limited and pay cut, despite NHS employers saying the basic rate of pay would be increased.
He said: “The new contract would see a doctor who works an 11 hour shift entitled to just a 20 minute break.
“The change will raise the basic salary but realistically it’s just a pay cut by another name.
“We’ve sat down and done the sums and if the changes come in, we will default on our mortgage. No doctor is asking for more money, we are just asking to not earn less money for the work we do.”
In the future, Simon hopes that any strike action will be supported by the public.
He said: “I’m so proud to work for a service where you can receive treatment without receiving a bill at the end.”