Doctors rally over ‘unsafe’ contracts: Homerton patients will be put at risk say medics
- Credit: Supplied by Dr Katie Knight, no copyright issues
Junior doctors at the Homerton Hospital are protesting over “unfair and unsafe” changes to working contracts that will put patient safety at risk, it is warned.
Thousands including local doctors marched on Whitehall this weekend waving “Save the NHS” placards, in a stark signal to health secretary Jeremy Hunt that medics will not accept controversial changes to working hours without a fight.
Dr Katie Knight, 29 a paediatric registrar at the Homerton until last month, said: “The government is threatening to impose these contracts despite the dangers that we see inherent in it.
“We think it will be unfair. We think we will end up working more hours than we’re contracted to at the moment.
“It will affect patient safety. It will affect our training as we won’t get the contact with senior consultants that we do now.”
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All doctors who are not consultants, including many with up to 15 years experience, are classified as junior doctors.
Critics say the proposed contract will reclassify normal working hours and remove vital safeguards that discourage hospital trusts from making doctors work dangerously long hours.
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The British Medical Association (BMA), the union for doctors, says “normal hours” will be changed to 7am to 10pm Monday to Saturday.
Extra payments for unsociable working will be earned only outside these times, rather than after 7am to 7pm Monday to Friday as currently.
Industrial action is on the cards after negotiations between the government and the BMA broke down.
“I’ve never known morale so low in hospital and yet I’ve never seen doctors so united,” said Dr Knight, who now works at North Middlesex Hospital.
“Nobody wants to strike but I genuinely think it’s going to happen, it’s something that’s keeping us up at night.”
A Department of Health spokesman said: “This is not a cost cutting exercise, we are not seeking to save any money.
“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.”