Although I originally said I wasn't overly excited by it all back in December but actually, paediatrics was really good! It's so diverse and it's almost like general practice but much more fun and with the same, if not wider, variety of conditions seen. However, there were a few safeguarding issues that came up during the placement and I still can't comprehend how anyone could abuse a child (or anyone for that matter). For that reason, paediatrics probably isn't for me but never say never!
Junior Doctor Contracts
One thing I want to talk about this week are the junior doctor strikes here in the UK. Essentially, the media have portrayed doctors as 'greedy' people and as a medical student who will be a junior doctor in 2017, I want to just say this. Doctors aren't in it for the money - my starting base salary will be in the region of £23,000 (however, it'll be 'topped up' if I work unsocial hours). Let me put this into perspective for you: I'll be graduating with about £70,000 of student debt and upon graduation from medical school, I'll have to pay GMC fees, for my own insurance, for BMA registration, etc and that's even before we talk about rent, food, bills, petrol and the like. If the social hours are moved, I'll be paid even less and am not even sure I'll be able to afford to be a doctor in this country.
If we were in it for the money, trust me, we'd all be doing something else. Not to blow our own trumpets but we are all intelligent people (more so at times, less so at others!) and there are probably many other better paying industries we could all be working in. As a graduate entry student, I've seen people in their 30s and 40s who have given up extremely well-paying jobs to come to medical school. Let me say this again, we are not in it for the money. However, that's not to say we don't want to be paid fairly. Re-classifying social hours is not only unfair, it is unrealistic. Anyone who tells you 9pm at night is the same as working at 9am in the morning is just ridiculous.
With regards to a 24-hour NHS, it already is operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. My best personal example of this is an emergency caesarean section I saw at 4am in the morning during a night shift. The consultant was present, the senior registrar was present and the senior house officer were all present, as was the anaesthetist, the midwives and the scrub nurse! Even the cleaner was in the corridor mopping the floor!
What we are fighting for is the future of the NHS. If these changes go ahead, there will be a mass exodus of healthcare personnel because not only will junior doctor's pay be cut, nurses, midwives, consultants, etc will be next on the agenda. Our skills are transferable - we can move abroad (healthcare personnel will always be needed around the world!).
Furthermore, reclassifying social hours to 7am to 10pm will result in overworked and tired doctors making increasingly poor decisions. This is a compromise to their own safety when commuting but even more so to the patients they will be treating. Would you like a doctor treating you when they are in their 13th hour of their shift? The current government also want to remove any financial penalties local trusts would have to pay if they overwork their doctors and this will further compromise on patient safety and allow them to overwork already exhausted doctors.
You might argue that there is a European Working Time Directive at play which caps our work at 48 hours per week but I can tell you this: I've rarely seen a doctor leave work early when I've been on the wards and this is especially true in some of the surgical specialties. And to add to this, my mum is a midwife and the number of times she has finished work on time in the last ten years can be counted on one hand. Healthcare workers cannot guarantee the finish time of their shift - how many jobs do you know of that can also say this aside from those in the public sector?
To finish, I want to say this. I want to work for the NHS. I went into medicine because my goal in life is to have as many days as possible where I've made a difference for someone else other than myself. I want to be paid fairly for what I'll be doing (factoring in the level of responsibility I'll have) and that's essentially why I chose medicine. I know I'll never earn megabucks as a doctor but that's ok as long as I am paid fairly. Essentially, the new contracts are not fair and more importantly, they are not safe.
How has your week been?