The musings of a final year medical student

Saturday, 26 September 2015


Recently the morale of my medic friends has really taken a nosedive. This is mainly because of the new suggestion of change to the junior doctor's contract. In a nutshell, the salary will remain unchanged, but the working hours will no longer be 9-5 Mon-Fri, but 7am-10pm Monday till Saturday. This is bloody outrageous.

Naturally, people are pissed off. It is ridiculous that a junior doctor would get paid the same salary as a McDonald's Manager. According to their own website, you don't actually need any specific academic qualifications to work as a McDonald's Manager, either. You could literally leave school at 16 or 18 (depending on the country you live in) with no qualifications whatsoever and get paid the same amount or more than someone with at least 3 A's at A level and a minimum 5 year degree in Medicine. 

Salary aside, it isn't safe to work those hours. It's well known that junior doctors are already overworked. Fatigue leads to human error, and human error kills the patient. 

I would like to ask the government, namely Jeremy Hunt and David Cameron as to why they are not giving us clear explanations surrounding this issue, or trying to make amends? Turns out David Cameron couldn't be arsed to do PM's question time last Wednesday so he could try and avoid the #Piggate fiasco. Nice one David. Can't you tell how much faith I have in the Conservative government. 

I think it would be abnormal if medical students never questioned if medicine was for them. However, the way medicine is in the UK is not the same as it used to be. Doctors used to be respected, whereas now there's always an article in the Daily Mail slagging off GPs. Doctors work within poorly-managed NHS constructs and budgets due to cuts by the Conservative government, and then they get an earful from patients for making them wait and from their coworkers for not meeting unrealistic national targets. The patient list expands, the services diminish and the salary reduces. A doctor can feel no longer valued by their patients nor their government, who is planning to abuse their rights.

So why would you put yourself through 10-12 years of training (depending on speciality), the emotional baggage, constant physical exhaustion, the guilt of depriving yourself and your loved ones, just to be a punching bag for the right-winged members of society? 

It is truly heartbreaking to see how upset doctors are made to feel because how the NHS is today. I implore you to watch this 5 minute video by The Guardian looking at what it's like to be an A&E doctor in London. 

For most of my friends, it's the first time we've thought about working abroad. Australia sounds nice. Or New Zealand, or Canada. Lovely developed countries with good health care systems that don't take the piss. Bit far away though. 

So, is medical school worth it? For me it definitely is. I've always wanted to know how the body works physiologically, but I don't want to be working in a lab or doing something stuck behind a computer all day. I want to talk to people and enjoy the challenge of winning over their trust, whilst knowing that I'm doing something that matters. Who knows where in medicine I will end up, or where in the world. But this whole Jeremy Hunt junior doctor's contract furore is not enough to stop me from pursuing a worthwhile career. 

If you want to stop the junior doctor's contract, sign the official UK government petition. If the petition gets over 10,000 votes then it has to be debated in parliament. 


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