Junior Doctors ‘Won’t Be Slaves!’

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IN just three days last week, 1,644 doctors applied to work abroad, the General Medical Council confirmed yesterday.

The surge in applications began last week after the Department of Health said it would impose a new contract on England’s 53,000 junior doctors. Changes to the contracts include a 40% cut in doctors’ pay and forcing them to work anti-social hours. This has had the immediate effect of driving doctors out of the country in droves.

The General Medical Council received 1,644 requests in three days for certificates of current professional status (CCPS), required to work abroad. Usually, the regulator receives 20-25 a day.

Today the British Medical Association’s (BMA) junior doctors committee meets to discuss what action junior doctors are going to take to stop the Tory government imposing these changes to their contracts.

‘To lose a large swathe of doctors in the early stages of their careers would be a disaster for the NHS,’ Kitty Mohan, co-chair of the committee warned yesterday. Adding: ‘These figures should serve as a serious wake-up call to the government. ‘There has been an outpouring of anger over plans to impose a new contract and there is a real risk that junior doctors will speak with their feet.’

Junior doctor in emergency medicine (A&E) David Rouse, speaking in a personal capacity, told News Line: ‘The issue as I see it is that increasing the amount of hours that junior doctors work will lead to junior doctors becoming increasingly tired and when junior doctors are tired they can end up making more mistakes.

‘We are worried that this new contract will negatively impact on patient safety. We are also worried by the huge decrease in salary of up to 40%. Those who will suffer the biggest cuts to their pay are those working in emergency medicine, paediatrics, acute medicine and A&E. These specialists already work a lot of anti-social hours and we are worried that if they suffer a further cut to their pay and they are forced to work even more anti-social hours they will leave and this will further negatively impact patient safety.

‘It is a worry whether the NHS will be able to recruit and retain these doctors in the future. How can we have a seven-day service if these contracts cause a haemorrhage of junior doctors to leave the country? I don’t think that industrial action is anything taken lightly and no decision has been made by the British Medical Association (BMA) to ballot members yet. The only reason doctors will take industrial action is if we are backed into a corner and there is no other avenue left.

‘We will do it if we think that the imposition of this contract will negatively affect the health of doctors and decrease our patients’ safety. To go back into negotiations, we are being told that we have to accept all the principles in the DDRB (Doctors and Dentists Review Body) and we are not allowed to negotiate on those principles. This is not a negotiation this is an imposition.’