As is common with a news story like this, nobody really knows what’s going on, especially the public. On one side, Jeremy Hunt is paraded by the Tories as gods gift to the Earth. He’s so passionate about the NHS and its patients that he wants to stretch it open even more, as if it wasn’t already ripped apart. The other side see the bloke as toxic and feel his last name should be slightly adjusted to a more appropriate noun. He wants junior doctors to work more than what is already considered an excessive amount and for less pay, asking them to come to the table to negotiate apparent non-negotiable points.
The doctors are saying its not about pay, the Tories are saying the doctors are greedy and uncooperative, whilst the public sit on the fence and watch. Though, and like we all should be, we’re naturally sceptical about anything Cameron’s lot do, especially when it involves changes to the NHS, basically the real crown jewels of this country.
So we decided to get the scoop from those who may come to matter most, medical students. The future advice givers, blood pressure takers, organ swappers of this country.
Here’s what they collectively had to say (Interviewees asked to remain anonymous)
So what’s so bad about Jeremy Hunt’s proposals?
He plans on extending junior doctor working 'social hours' to 10pm, and including saturday as a normal work day, until 10pm. These extra hours are already being worked by doctors anyway, as of course, our NHS is a 24/7 service, despite what he's trying to convince the general public. At this time, junior doctors working outside social hours (which is all of them, they are required to do nights and weekends) receive bonus pay for these extra hours.
His proposals mean junior doctors will be working more hours in a week, for less pay than they had been before, depending on what specialty they do. For example, junior doctors in emergency medicine or paediatrics could find themselves facing a 30% pay cut. A contract, which he says, the BMA refuses to negotiate about, when he's specifically told them from the start that these points are non-negotiable.
I need to also point out what exactly junior doctors are, their financial obligations, how they'll be massively discouraged from not only those specialties that are the most affected but from working in the UK in general. A UK doctor can go work in Australia for few hours and 50% more pay, hardly a difficult decision.
So you think if these proposals go through, junior doctors will steer clear of areas such as emergency medicine, perhaps they will just switch areas instead of moving as far away as Australia?
Well, the starting salary for a junior doctor is in the 22,000's, and you are a junior doctor for around 10-15 years. Considering they've had five-six years of university bills, not to mention the actual difficulty of getting into a medicine course in this country, and the numerous further exams and qualifications they must pay for from their own pocket. It's true that the most severely cut areas, such as emergency medicine, will suffer the most, however because all junior doctors work nightshifts and weekends they will all face extended unsafe working hours. No amount of area switching can prevent that.
Put yourself in the shoes of Jeremy Hunt what are you thinking ?
I'm thinking short term that I'm going to save a lot of money by cutting the doctors pay, and further demonise them to the public eye by causing a lot more accidents and mistakes with the safeguards removed. Long term, as the NHS doctors are slowly pressured to leave either the NHS or the country itself, I'll be able to privatise it to the highest bidder.
So the whole thing is ideological ?
Well I don't doubt that he's an intelligent man, if there's no final ideological motive then he really is an idiot.
So your 100% in favour of strike action?
I can see it now, daily mail front page: doctor strikes lead to patient deaths, how do you feel about this?
Well actually, patients are less likely to die on the days that the strikes take place, the hospitals will still be staffed and running, but patients will only be treated for emergency life threatening situations.
Do you think the strikes will work ?
To be honest I'm not sure, Jeremy Hunt is still not willing to hint at dropping these proposals. It'll likely depend on the public itself, whether they'll start putting pressure on Jeremy or the junior doctors.
What seems clear therefore, is the angry mob, that is the public, are to be decisive. The problem here though, is that the Tories know public persuasion, and they know it well. “The problem is David Cameron used to work in PR, and now the Conservative party is a well oiled PR machine. They know what they're up to. It's easy to see how a strike can be used to turn public opinion against doctors, and I have no doubt that's what they'll do’’, says a 4th year med student.
The Tory PR machine must be stopped, share this post and show your support.