The war on junior doctors is stupid, unfair, and utterly misguided

The cynical attempt to paint hard working junior doctors as cash obsessed “moet medics” is everything that’s wrong with this government

debate Jeremy Hunt junior doctor medics NHS strikes

You really have got to admire governments sometimes.

I mean this wholeheartedly, because if I’ve learned nothing else from watching vox pop interviews on various news channels and receiving concerned calls from family members late at night, it’s that the government have Derren Brown levels of spin and deception. Confusion is rife, and quite rightly if the press is to be believed: with ‘Moet Medics’ riding elephants on expensive holidays, sipping champagne on the picket lines, and laughing at that all-around nice guy Jeremy H**t, who’s only trying to stop doctors from letting people die at weekends.

So what actually is going on? What exactly is a junior doctor? And what’s all this about a seven-day NHS? I thought hospitals were open on weekends?

Moet medics don't exist. I have no idea how that magnum of champagne got there.

Moet medics don’t exist. I have no idea how that magnum of champagne got there.

These are all excellent questions (well, maybe not the last one) which many people are confused about. Firstly, junior doctors are qualified doctors who are not yet consultants or GPs but are spending 5-10 years after graduating from medical school training to be them. Despite the base salary of first-year foundation doctors being a measly £22,636, this isn’t actually the main reason for the strike, whatever the Sun thinks – it’s more to do with working hours.

Junior doctors can work up to 100 hours per week, and a sizeable portion of their pay is earned through compensation for working ‘unsociable hours’; currently set as being outside the ‘standard hours’ of Monday – Friday, 7 am – 7 pm. The proposed contract that the junior doctors are striking over wants to change this, and this is where you truly have to appreciate quite how clever Jeremy Hunt is. Although he is giving the junior doctors an 11 per cent pay rise in basic pay, he’s simultaneously dropping antisocial hours pay by 25-50 per cent by changing standard hours to Monday – Saturday, 7 am – 10 pm. At the same time, he is effectively nullifying the current safeguards to stop hospitals from overworking their junior doctors.

But why? Does he want to drive these Moet Medics further into alcohol addiction?

 Future Union President confers with expert political campaigners/clubbing second year medics

Future Union President confers with expert political campaigners/clubbing second-year medics

It’s simple: this allows him to increase the amount of staff he’s got working during the week without paying them a penny more, as doctors will have to take up extra shifts with the pay cuts anyway to afford to eat, pay their mortgages, and to fund their lavish retreats to further plot the overthrow of the Tory government.

Never mind that removing safeguards makes doctors work unsafe hours, and tired doctors make mistakes. Never mind that we already have a seven-day service for inpatients and emergencies, but there’s barely enough staff or funds for a five-day service in terms of GPs, clinics, and elective ops. Never mind that no junior doctor actually wants to strike; I mean, it’s not like they’ve been trying to negotiate a contract where all but one of the points “wasn’t up to discussion” and the whole thing could well be enforced anyway.

"Hey, look, there goes our career prospects sliding down that mountain"

“Hey, look, there goes our career prospects sliding down that mountain”

Instead, here’s what you do:

Bend statistics that have not only been refuted but were out of context anyway. Who cares if you’re not actually 20 per cent more likely to die of a stroke on the weekend, it’s not like doctors are scientists and know anything about statistics.

Attack doctors and call them political agitators for the rise of our Glorious Leader, Jeremy Corbyn; despite the fact that even the most politically gifted junior doctors only picked up their mad debate skills from trying to survive the Union’s cut-throat committee infighting.

Ignore any facts that disagree with you, like that only 53 per cent of doctors continue to train in the NHS after their first few years, that there was a student nurses’ strike recently as well about similar issues, and that there were plans in place to improve weekend care years before it was part of the Tory manifesto.

Whatever happens, remember to claim it’s a win. Winning is everything in politics, and even if you concede every point on the contract, remember that you’re only doing it to stop darned medics from hurting more people, so you still win.

Just keep spinning.