Protests over new NHS contracts

first_imgNew contracts for junior doctors proposed by the Department of Health have provoked outrage across the profession, sparking a protest outside Downing Street by trainee doctors, with two organisers and a large contingent of protestors from Oxford. The changes, due to take effect next year, will force medics to work longer hours for no extra pay. Junior doctors argue that under new contracts they will take a home-pay cut of up to 15 per cent and will be subjected to working hours that the British Medical Association (BMA) “unsafe and unfair” for patients and doctors. Joanna May Sutton, an organiser of the ‘Save our Contracts’ protest commented, “It was exciting to see so many angry but energised medical students and doctors coming out to demonstrate. “These aren’t your typical protesters, and to come out on a Monday evening after work with hundreds of hand-made placards and banners showed that we are willing to do anything to ensure that our patients are kept safe. “ Richard Griffith, a medic at Pembroke College, told Cherwell, “The primary goal is for the best patient care and treatment possible, and it’s difficult to see how these contracts do anything to help towards that goal…If these contracts go through, it could be the start (or some might argue, the continuation) of a dangerous slippery slope for the NHS.” A clinical medic at Lincoln College told Cherwell, “The proposed contracts are both a step backwards for the NHS and, in many ways, a scam.”“They remove many of the financial incentives that protect doctors from being overworked on weekends (and fairly reward them when they are), penalise female doctors who take time out for maternity reasons, and claim to target a problem that doesn’t exist…namely, the myth that doctors don’t work weekends (they do).” A spokesperson for the British Medical Association (BMA) commented, “We urge the government not to impose a contract that is unsafe and unfair. “We will resist a contract that is bad for patients, bad for junior doctors and bad for the NHS.” However, the Department of Health has defended its decision, saying in a statement, “We want to improve patient safety in hospitals. We believe the current contract is unfair for doc- tors and patients, so we want to discuss a way forward with the BMA that maintains average earnings for junior doctors and doesn’t cut the pay bill.” Junior doctors are currently paid “standard” time for working normal hours, Monday to Friday. However, under the new proposals, “stan- dard” time will be extended from 60 hours per week to 90 and stretch up to 10pm every night of the week apart from Sunday. Third-year Oxford medical student Eirion Slade has written a song in protest against the contracts to the tune of Jessie J’s ‘Price Tag’. He performed the song during the protest outside Downing Street, and it has now received more than 190,000 views online. He told Cherwell, “The proposed junior doctor contracts will drive enormous numbers of doctors out of the profession, since many doctors will not be able to sustain their financial and family commitments on an overnight pay cut. If doctors leave their contracted jobs, they will have to be replaced with expensive locum cover, which will cripple the NHS. “These contracts are actually so counterpr ductive that it seems like the health secretary is deliberately trying to force the NHS into a financial position that it cannot recover from.”last_img

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