Over the past week the medical profession has taken a barrage of hits orchestrated in my view by the media and Jeremy Hunt.
1. Jeremy Hunt announces if the BMA do not support his plans for a 7 day NHS contract on hospital based consultants then he will enforce a contract change on them (hence by definition not a contract but more akin to bullying)
2. Further changes will be imposed to reclassify the definition of unsociable hours making doctors who do currently work at weekends and nights (i know….believe it or not, many hospital doctors and GPs already do – something omitted in the media) earn significantly less money for working unsociable hours.
3. Jeremy Hunt justifies these plans on the basis of saving 6000 preventable deaths per year. An admirable reason – if the information is correct.
4. Jeremy Hunt has stated he has never met a doctor who would want their family admitted over the weekend. This is despite his own actions of taking a family member to AE instead of seeing a GP.
However what has received little media coverage and no comments from Jeremy Hunt is the failures he has committed while pushing through the above.
1. To impose a contract change on a profession will make workers leave. Already this is happening with a recruitment crisis in GP with several areas having unfilled training positions this year -leading Jeremy Hunt to back track on the Government’s pledge of 5000 extra GPs.
However the above will also make doctors not want to stay in hospital working as well – most likely meaning many will either change careers or emigrate for a better work/life balance.
2. Making significant changes that mean doctors earn less will aggravate the above commented career migration. Here we are also shown a clear hypocrisy by MPs. Doctors have for the last four years had a ‘pay freeze’ despite independent DDRB review suggesting marginal increases each year. However when a similar situation affects MPs leading to an 10%pay increase – the MPs hide behind the change being driven by an independent review board so MPs like Jeremy Hunt will accept the increase.
3. The details of Jeremy Hunt’s comments about saving lives by the NHS working seven days has come under scrutiny. As shown the details are not from published resources. In addition the media and Jeremy Hunt have put little coverage to the negative impact of changing to a seven day service will have – when the current five day service is already underfunded (£14 billion effective funding cut) and under-resourced). Simply – where will the resources to cover and extra two days come from? Are we looking at the start of NHS privatisation??
4. Despite his claims a petition is already underway showing many doctors who would use the weekend services. Debunking the myth that doctors themselves would not use the weekend services. I am one of them- having needing to use my local AE department when my son was unwell – and am very grateful for @nottmhospitals for their help and excellent service.
5. To try and score political points with the public Jeremy Hunt posed in an AE unit with staff. However in this picture he broke patient confidentiality by showing patient names in public. When this was realised the image was removed and an alternate version posted – however no formal public apology has been made by Jeremy Hunt or his office. This shows to me a health secretary not willing to accept his own or his office’s errors.
However in the wake of these actions Jeremy Hunt may have pushed a profession and a service on the brink too far. The #ImInWorkJeremy campaign has grown exponentially over the weekend with NHS staff showing how hard they work. I will admit I do not clinically work at weekends. This is due to already pulling ~50+hours a week with my day job as a GP, but also using my free time to engage with my several unpaid roles (and have a family /social life) .
I support my colleagues and applaud the efforts of doctors, nurses and support staff working already seven days a week despite the claims of a health secretary who ignores, degrades and penalises those working hard for others benefits….. Just as he takes a 10
% pay rise and a seven week holiday.
You decide. I know my opinion is clear.