We got a medic to explain why they rejected the junior doctors’ contract

‘Jeremy Hunt is putting money over lives’

This morning the British Medical Association rejected the government’s final offer on the new junior doctor contract.

This contract proposed by Jeremy Hunt would redefine the meaning of unsociable hours, make Saturday a normal working day and increase the hours worked in total by each junior doctor, which many believe will affect the overall quality of the NHS. Despite the chair of the BMA saying members would agree, 54,000 members took part in the ballot which closed on Friday, with 37,000 (58 per cent) members rejecting the contract.

These photos were taken at the London march in protest at the proposed contract for junior doctors

We asked Medicine student, Stephen, who currently studies at Liverpool and is part of the BMA, what the junior doctor contract means to him and his peers.

What does the junior doctor contract mean to you?

In my first year of studying medicine, most of my peers and I were pretty set on just going through the normal motions of becoming a UK doctor. You become an F1 and F2 doctor, then you become a core/specialist trainee depending on what speciality you want to go into, whether that’s the GP or the surgeon, gastro or diabetes. You can be a junior doctor for up to 10 years and eventually work your way up to be a consultant.

It was all because the Conservatives wanted a true seven day NHS, which the government does not have the funds for, so doctors would be made to work longer hours in general. To expect doctors to work more for less is dangerous, not only for the doctors but for the patients. Doctors may have to work longer to match their previous pay scale.

Stephen is the one on the right

As soon as the contract was released, there were a lot of talks of going abroad as soon as possible amongst my course mates. Some want to go to the US, Australia or Canada, simply because its kind of a kick in the teeth to be working for so long, just to have our futures to be played around with on a financial level. This will ultimately affect the quality of care within the NHS.”

How do you feel about Jeremy Hunt as a Health Secretary?

The report which showed that the death rate in hospitals was higher during the weekend than during the week, was used to scapegoat the junior doctors. In order to improve the seven day NHS, one would have to improve all the services and not just the number of junior doctors. Besides the report did not include external factors, one being that a person who comes to hospital on a weekend is likely to be sicker as they might be unable to go to hospital during the week. Medical students don’t really like him because he wanted to impose the contract without listening to the very people it was going to affect, it seems to me that he’s putting money over lives which will affect the service of the NHS.

Stephen with his course mates

What does the junior doctor contract mean to you personally?

If I stay here, I want to be able to know that I’m not going to be spread so thin that the service I provide is only compromised. It seems like it’s become all about the money to Hunt. Being paid less is bad enough but its more the fact that we’re expected to work longer hours, which will have devastating effects on the quality of service provided by the NHS. When it comes down to it, its a matter of life and death.

Do you agree with the BMAs rejection of the new contract this morning?

Yes, definitely. A lot of people think that this is a way to ruin the NHS form the inside out and the eventual degradation of  it will allow the idea of privatisation to become more acceptable. People will be more willing to privatise our hospitals, when they will see the standard of  the care going down.