Dear Mr Hunt

This is a very different kind of Music on Monday for you.  It’s a missive to our current Health Minister, Jeremy Hunt, from a group of junior doctors.

You may or may not know that Mr Hunt is currently trying to impose a new contract on junior doctors in England that will drastically make life worse for them and, despite his protestations to the contrary, mean they will be considerably worse off financially too.

The new contract which Mr Hunt would impose increases the doctors ‘normal’ working hours to include up to 10 p.m. (it is currently 7:00pm) and Saturdays.  Whilst promising a pay rise of 11% in one hand, he takes away the additional payment for those hours and, somewhat underhandedly, is abolishing the annual increments they are currently entitled to.

Mr Hunt seems to be forgetting a few things:

  • To qualify as doctors, young people spend five years at university accruing massive student loans, thanks to a government who keeps increasing fees. Most of them will spend the next 20 years paying those loans off. Even after all that training, their starting pay is as little as £23,000 and they rely on the unsocial hour payments to top that up to a living wage.  Not forgetting that many of them are at an age when they have young families to support on that too.
  • After uni they are required to complete a couple of foundation years, where they are expected to take on huge responsibilities – from day one they are working night shifts on their own.
  • From day one they work weekends and nights. They already provide a 24/7 service. Yes, that does include weekends and Christmas (We have to postpone our own Christmas to accommodate our daughter’s shift patterns).
  • To progress they need to take exams which cost up to £400 a pop.  To pass the exams they have to fork out for books and courses often costing in excess of £100 each.  Being a doctor is not a cheap option.
  • Being a doctor is a ‘lifelong learning’ career.The annual increments that they are currently entitled to recognise the experience gained over the previous year and the additional responsibilities that entails.
  • They are already massively understaffed and overworked.  Imposing this contract may see a huge migration of our wonderful talented young doctors to foreign parts, or alternative careers, where their dedication is appreciated.

You can maybe tell that I feel deeply angered by Mr Hunt’s cavalier attitude, and that may be coloured by my daughters both being junior doctors (though the one currently working in Wales will not be directly affected should these proposals be enforced).  But this is the tip of the iceberg. Our NHS is crumbling under the current government, who seem to have no insight into the realities of caring for the sick. I fear for it’s future, and without a caring attitude towards our doctors who will care for us?

You can find out more about the Junior Doctors Dispute here.

Anyway…. my thanks to these wonderful young ladies who have done a stirling job of putting their plight into song:


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