The new ‘example’ rotas for junior doctors are somehow even worse than expected
Here’s your day off – you’ll be working 10 hours of it
Junior doctors have learned for the first time what their rota will look like under the new contract imposed upon them by Jeremy Hunt. It’s dispiriting.
They’re furious about the 17 “example” rotas published by NHS employers. They have pointed out the many flaws and broken promises. We asked a junior doctor to explain their biggest complaints.
Most of the ‘days off’ ignore the fact they’re working a night shift the day before
At first glance, many of the new rotas are littered with days off, breaking up the week and giving the impression that the long hours are adequately compensated for. However, junior doctors have been quick to point out that many of these “days off” follow a night shift where they will be working until 10am the following day. Take week one in the above rota.
The Wednesday night shift means they’ll be working for ten hours of Thursday, even though it’s listed as a day off. So, they’ll barely have caught up on sleep on their day off before they’re in work again on Friday morning for three straight 13-hour days.
Jeremy Hunt has gone back on his promise that doctors won’t work consecutive weekends
When Jeremy Hunt told MPs about the new contract he was imposing, he said: “No doctor will ever be rostered consecutive weekends.”
But some of the new rotas contain consecutive weekend shifts, with the above rota 15 being the worst example with three consecutive weekends. To rub salt in the wound, the rota proudly boasts at the top that this is actually only seven weekends every 15 weeks, as if that makes the fact those seven weekends are squeezed into a 12-week period any better.
Some rotas don’t apply to most junior doctors
Look at rota five. It’s quite nice compared to a lot of the other ones, isn’t it? Well, it’s also not very realistic for the vast majority of junior doctors because of the lack of night shifts.
Clemency, a junior doctor, told us: “Very few specialties do no night [shifts] after F1 level (Foundation year one). Even if you don’t work nights, you’ll then have to take a pay cut because you’d be missing out on the premium for out of hours work.”
There are also some pretty embarrassing mistakes
We’re going to give the government some credit and say they probably didn’t mean for some rotas to suggest doctors will be working over 48 hours straight. It’s far more likely that, in the case of rota 17 above, whoever wrote this got 12-hour and 24-hour clocks mixed up and didn’t realise that a shift from 09:00 to 09:00 on both Saturday and Sunday would mean working the entire weekend.
So, let’s say they meant to write 09:00 to 21:00. Then, the problem is that the week adds up to 66.5 hours, not the 62.5 hours which the rota says. The mistakes and errors pile up until you reach a point where you can’t tell if it’s down to incompetence or if Jeremy Hunt is just fucking with everyone.
It’s little wonder so many junior doctors are applying to work overseas instead.