Partha Kar

A message to junior doctors – decide whether to support the contract dispassionately

Social media has been a curious cocktail since the ‘contract deal’ was announced. Conjectures, theories, mischief has flown around in equal measure, with most folks uncertain of the detail.

So to all junior doctors, I say take a time out. Shut yourselves from all external opinions and wait for the actual details to come out.

As a senior clinician in the NHS and some experience of the system, I would ask for calm, some time and a bit of patience.

This isn’t about the BMA or the Department of Health, this is purely about YOUR future. And it is up to you to take the time and understand the detail.

I am not a member of the BMA but for a moment, pause and appreciate the effort put in by Johann – the chair of the juniors’ committee.

Throughout all this, his composure has been admirable; he has been resolute – and then he has also gone back to the table. Whether he has achieved what you want – well, let time and the details inform your choice.

Mischief abounds on social media – the desire to rile junior doctors is there. If you counted the number of folks with chips on their shoulders, you could open a local chippie.

You, as junior doctors, are clinicians and scientists – so apply that to the details and see whether the new deal helps to achieve better patient safety, equality or indeed quality of life.

For me personally, the contract was about hours worked, safeguards and indeed equality for all – not a 2 tier system based on whether you took a break due to pregnancy – and if these have been addressed, I am happy.

I don’t know whether I am yet because I await the details.

Think about the initial contract, see where you have got to, and then decide whether the negotiation team has achieved what you wanted. Not everyone will be happy – but it is about the majority view.

This is not about “winning”. This is about working in a safe environment for both yourselves and the patients.

Politicians will spin what they want, but we know what a 7-day service needs and it isn’t a junior doctor contract change.

To get the government to turn around and back to the negotiating table was nothing short of remarkable.

Forget those trying to rile you, a generation of NHS staff and many, many patients are very grateful not only for the resilience shown but the ability to go back and negotiate.

So, to all of you folks, without whom our health system would stop functioning, and to whom I am always grateful for the help you provide, stay off social media. Wait for the contract details,

Then get a nice drink, sit down with it, and make your decision – as an adult, as a clinician, as someone who is reading a paper, not a press release.

You have all earned our respect. Enjoy that, and then make the decision that feels right to you – free from anger.

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