Tom Goodfellow

Juniors contract dispute: let’s hope they can find some common ground in this week’s talks

With bated breath we all wait for white smoke to emerge from the chimneys above wherever it is the BMA and the Government are holding their long awaited talks on the junior contract. Finally both sides have decided to man up, get off the drama triangle and start doing what they should have been doing all along: talking!

However Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s case for the new contract, based on alleged increased mortality in hospital admissions over the weekend, has been torpedoed below the waterline by two recent reports.

Prof Matt Sutton of Manchester, and Prof Peter Rothwell and his Oxford team have shown that the apparent increase in deaths over the weekend is based on inaccurate data and poor statistics.

Not so states Prof Nick Freemantle who authored the original paper much quoted by the politicians.

So while the professors battle it out we all just hope that the contract negotiators on each of the conflict can find some common ground before the whole dispute escalates into something more deadly.

Mind you, have you noticed that the BMA’s rhetoric has changed? At the start of the dispute the cry was, “tired doctors are unsafe” and “new rotas will be unsafe”.

But now we are told that the BMA wish to discuss, among other things, “unsocial hours and Saturday pay”.

Unsocial hours! Pay rates! This is the stuff of any old trade union dispute at any time.

What happened to the high and mighty ideals of saving the NHS? Is this enough to threaten an unlimited strike with all the damage this would do? Excuse me but doctors of old have always worked unsocial hours because frequently people do not manage to be ill during more socially convenient times. And yes, I admit it – I did work the 120 hours a week shifts for a few years, and it wasn’t always fun, but yet I survived.

Actually often it was fun and fulfilling, giving a sense of achievement when a job was well done.

I fervently hope that agreement is reached because in my view the juniors, who I admire and respect, have been misled by the BMA and are in danger of losing confidence in what should be an enjoyable and fulfilling job.

The more you feed negativity the more it grows, and I think that sadly this is what has been happening to the juniors.

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One Response to “Juniors contract dispute: let’s hope they can find some common ground in this week’s talks”

  1. mct.morrison says:

    Yes Tom, but when you were working ‘all hours God gave’ (as did I), doctors were RESPECTED!

    Times have changed. I am sure you will remember that it was because successive governments (of all political persuasions) ignored the advice of successive Review Body Reports that ‘working hours’ became ‘defined’ – and, as in all walks of life, ‘unsocial hours’ attract a ‘premium’. What is more, NO OTHER PROFESSION does ‘routine’ work at weekends.

    Of course I hope that their ‘jaw, jaw’ will not result in ‘war, war’! But, as you say, Mr Hunt’s case is based on a false premise. Also, I have yet to see a definition of what he means by a “7 day NHS” – he already has one for emergencies. And where is he going to get his extra professional staff (nurses, readigraphers and path technicians) from? With his present staff, he will have to take them away from their ‘midweek’ duties! Furthermore, with only approximately one thrid of the nation voting for his party, it is a bit rich to call this a ‘mandate’!

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