Northwick Park Hospital doctor claims new contracts would cause dangerous shift patterns
- Credit: Supplied by Dr Bakshi no copyright issues
This was the scene as thousands of junior doctors marched on Whitehall waving “Save the NHS” placards to oppose “unfair and unsafe” changes to working contracts.
They took to the streets in a stark signal to health secretary Jeremy Hunt that junior medics will not accept controversial changes to working hours without a fight.
Dr Bhavagaya Bakshi, 28, a GP registrar at Northwick Park Hospital, said imposition of the “punitive new contracts” would lead to “dangerous shift patterns with 90-hour weeks and 15-hour days”.
“The removal of contractual safeguards to protect patients from harm and a reduction in pay of up to 30 per cent has created a storm amongst junior doctors,” she said.
“But this has never been about money, it’s about the patient.
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“Contracted working hours need to be safe to stop fatigued, overworked and burnt out doctors making life and death decisions about your health that can lead to mistakes, errors and harm.”
Critics say the proposed contract will reclassify doctors’ normal working and remove vital safeguards that discourage hospital trusts from making junior medics work dangerously long hours.
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The British Medical Association, the union for doctors, says the deal will reclassify “normal hours” as being from 7am to 10pm Monday to Saturday.
Extra payments for unsociable working will be earned only outside these times, rather than the current arrangements of 7am to 7pm Monday to Friday.
Dr Bakshi, who faces a £9,000 pay drop under the proposed changes, described the intense pressure junior doctors already work under.
“This is the 12th day in a row I have worked,” she said. “By 13 hours I can’t think straight, I feel sick and dizzy, I can barely write legibly. I operate within the same limitations as all human beings.”
Negotiations between the government and the BMA have broken down and industrial action is on the cards.
A Department of Health spokesman said: “This is not a cost cutting exercise, we are not seeking to save any money from the pay bill.
“The proposal will improve patient safety by better supporting a seven-day NHS.
“This contract will not impose longer hours and we will ensure that the great majority are at least as well paid as they would be now.
“We urge the BMA to come back to the table to work out the best deal for its members.”