In what appears to be a desperate attempt to placate junior doctors before the impending strike, Jeremy Hunt has revealed that under new contract arrangements there will be an 11% rise in the basic pay for junior doctors.
Whilst at first glance this may seem like wonderful news, let me reassure you that it’s not. If junior doctors see a reduction in gross pay of around 30%, due to the changes in the contract regarding what is classified as unsociable hours, then an 11% rise in their basic salary is not going to compensate for this.
Mr Hunt has admitted that a small minority of doctors will lose out (although lets be clear that he has not put a definite number on this, so the minority could be up to 49%) but lets say for arguments sake that this pay cut affects just 5% of junior doctors. That might not be very many, but what kind of message are we sending out if any doctors receive a pay cut? The quality of their work won’t change and how they treat patients shouldn’t change, so why Mr Hunt believes it’s acceptable for any doctor to have a pay cut is beyond me.
This is a very clever way to manipulate the media and warp the general public’s opinion of those in the medical profession, portraying junior doctors as ‘greedy, money hungry people who are not satisfied with an 11% pay rise’.
It’s not a pay rise. It’s an outrage.
The Dermatology Consultant’s view of the ‘pay rise’
And let’s not forget what the change in unsociable hours does to the ‘work life balance’ of junior doctors. It means that a doctor contracted to work 36 social hours a week (not that you’ll find many juniors on a contract as nice as that) will be expected to work Saturday and late into the evenings on every day expect Sunday as part of their standard hours, this will take away valuable time that can be spent with family and loved ones.
Australian A&Es are staffed already by many British doctors, where pay and working conditions are far more favourable than working for the NHS. As A&E doctors are among the most heavily affected (as they are the most likely to put in lots of overtime), I wonder how long it will be until the mass exoduses of junior doctors begins, especially considering so many have applied to work abroad.
Lizzy is a Third year Medical Student at The University of Liverpool and is the current Treasurer and Science & Technology Editor of The Sphinx. When she isn't cursing her workload she can usually be found eating cake and watching daytime TV.