There are lots of unhappy junior doctors right now, Jeremy Hunt wishes to change our contract and have more of us working on weekends and pay us less for weekends than we currently are paid. This will apparently make hospitals safer. This is not true.
For me to work as normal I need cleaners, laundry staff, sterile supplies staff, nurses, phlebotomists, pharmacy and all their staff, a full radiology department, haematology labs, biochemistry labs, microbiology labs, porters, ward nurses, staff in the canteen, theatre nurses, endoscopy staff and nurses and secretarial support.
What’s the bloody point of 2 surgical registrars getting paid half the money when we don’t have a team? Who does Jeremy speak to that suggests this is wise? Nobody with any sense I suspect. Come and spend a weekend with me and have your eyes opened to the NHS…
My 13 hour shift starts with a stabbing in A&E; a Bighospital weekend special involving a heroin user, a sword, a litre of blood loss and a patient who soon wishes to discharge against my medical advice. I have to speak to the police at length and spend an hour sorting this unfortunate man out, he absconds from the department to “sort things out himself”. We await the results of that with baited breath..
Up to the ward to review the 4 admissions that my day shift colleague was too busy to see. The ancient cheap computer I use to review their X-Rays takes 3 painfully slow minutes to log me in to and automatically locks me out after 60 seconds of inactivity. Over the course of the night I log in 26 times, you do the maths.
A patient in HDU has the DT’s and has pulled out his IV lines, his catheter and is now trying to leave. He has punched a nurse and has had enough diazepam to sedate a hippo but the litre of vodka a day he is withdrawing to keeps him going.
A few ward reviews and a ward round in the high dependency unit to trouble shoot any issues and the night flies by.
At 3am it calms down, I drink a can of juice and check Facebook and see what normal people do on a weekend night. I need to book on a course for some more training I think I need; it costs £595 which I am not reimbursed for. I can’t pay for it until after pay day but I keep checking there are still places available.
This year alone out of my own money I have spent over £5000 on exams, courses, conferences and travel and accommodation and textbooks. It’s only because my husband is the main breadwinner that I am able to do this without it impacting on our family. Many of my colleagues struggle to pay for these things.
Back to A&E to see a man who is critically ill. He needs to go to theatre tonight or he will die. I get a CT to confirm the diagnosis and we get him on the table within an hour. The operation goes well but I doubt he will survive, he is taken to ICU post-op.
By now it is 6am and I am exhausted. I have had one coffee and one can of coke. I have nowhere to go on nights to rest so I lie with my head on the desk for five minutes before dealing with the problems that have occurred whilst I was in theatre.
I have an admission to review, a very advanced cancer patient is ill and distressed as her colon is hugely dilated and she is in pseudo obstruction. It’s so blown up it’s compressing her chest and she can’t breathe. She looks 9 months pregnant with twins but is otherwise tiny and cachetic.
She has kidney failure, has vomited some blood and hasn’t eaten or drank for 3 days. Gently I pop a tube into her rectum and let litres of gas escape from her and then fluid stool. Her abdomen decompresses and she can breathe.
I secure the tube and gently sit her back up. Then she hugs me and leans her tiny thin bald head against my shoulder and thanks me for doing that. “I feel so much better for that. Thank you”. Then she sobs and says “I’m so scared of dying. I can’t leave my husband he isn’t coping with this”.
Jeremy Hunt can try and take a third of my salary from me, he can try and take my contract from me, he can try and damage my family life and home life, ruin the morale of me and my colleagues but he can’t take the love I have for my job and for the NHS, for the patients I care for and their families.
He can’t take away the hands I hold and the people I help. He can’t take away the colleagues that I work and laugh with and share the amazing privilege of doing this job with.
Who has he helped? Whose life or even death has been better because of what he could do? I love the NHS and I love my job and I won’t let him destroy that.
Our contract is not fit for purpose and the NHS is similarly ailing but the solution is not to destroy “junior” doctors contracts.
Last weekend I was the most senior doctor in the hospital for surgery from 5pm to 8am. I operated on and managed all of them without a consultant. Hunt is trying to devalue “junior” doctors and imply that the treatment is in some way substandard.
Please support us like we have supported you and don’t let Jeremy destroy the NHS for our children.