Government will ‘destroy’ NHS – junior doctor

Dr Jade Beeston, who works at North Tees Hospital, part of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust
Dr Jade Beeston, who works at North Tees Hospital, part of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust

A medic on the frontline of care has slammed proposed changes to junior doctors’ contracts.

Jade Beeston, 27, works in A&E at University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton and says that new terms set to come in in August 2016 will cut pay, make conditions worse for staff and reduce patient safety.

At the moment Jeremy Hunt only seems to be targeting junior doctors, but it is inevitable that if he beats us, he’ll move to another staff group next, and keep going until everyone is included.

Dr Jade Beeston

Junior doctors are today set to march in Newcastle in protest at the proposals as they ask the Government to reconsider.

Dr Beeston, who is from Peterlee, told the Mail: “Health secretary Jeremy Hunt wants to increase the number of doctors in hospitals on a weekend.

“He’s also promised that the total amount spent on junior doctors’ salaries won’t change, and that on average no doctor will be worse off, “on average” being the key phrase.

“To make the second two statements true leaves only two options: one) junior doctors work more hours for the same pay, leading to exhausted doctors as discussed above, or two) more doctors are in hospital on weekends- but then are off during the week.

“Neither of these options are acceptable.

“We’ve already discussed the problems with doctors being exhausted, but let me expand: the term “junior doctor” is misleading- it implies a very young doctor with little experience and few responsibilities.

“In reality, it is anyone until the day before they become consultant, and from very early on we literally make life or death decisions.

“Would you want someone who works twelve days in a row, with a total of 111 rostered hours, making decisions about your care?

“If you’ve ever been in a hospital that has probably already happened.

“Those shift patterns are commonplace and we somehow manage to survive them.

“Add more days without a break, or more hours across those days and we will reach breaking point- doctors are human, just like the patients that we treat.”

It emerged earlier this week that strike ballot of junior doctors over the dispute will start next month and last two weeks, according to the British Medical Association (BMA) has announced.

The vote - starting on November 5 - has been expected since the union’s leaders agreed to a ballot last month.

Mr Hunt and the BMA leadership have since met in an attempt to resolve the dispute.

“At the moment Jeremy Hunt only seems to be targeting junior doctors, but it is inevitable that if he beats us, he’ll move to another staff group next, and keep going until everyone is included,” added Dr Beeston.

“He is single-handedly destroying the good will and morale that the NHS survives on.”