Saturday, 13 February 2016


A proud record!
Weekend working for some people only.
No wonder he's unbothered by waiting times in doctors' surgeries, when his own surgery has a wait of a month.
Now we know why he was appointed.
How would privatisation of the English NHS
affect Wales, NI and Scotland
Oh, that's a hard one.
Last night I was the sole doctor on site caring for over 100 patients who were acutely unwell with complications from their cancer.
Some couldn't breath, some were fighting overwhelming infections with literally no immune system, one had bleeding in their head, one had a blockage in their bowels. If I made a mistake because I was tired, any one of these patients could've died.
Every cancer patient in the south Birmingham region has a direct line to call for advice or help. 11 new unwell patients arrived and I assessed and treated them too.
There was not a single manager in the whole hospital. Last night, I ran the oncology service for the whole south Birmingham region from inside the biggest teaching hospital in Europe.
Apparently I have no transferable skills to find a different job.
And then I stood on a picket line in the cold to save our NHS. But my shift wasn't during the strike, it was just what countless other junior doctors do everyday.
I am 27 years old. I work 60 hours a week, for the 48 that I'm paid for, I earn £18/hour.
Apparently I lack vocation, I'm overpaid and I need to work harder.
Screw you Jeremy Hunt. We never asked for thanks. All we do is for our patients, how dare you try and turn them against us. All of this is your government's fault. Well you've picked a fight with the wrong crowd.
Go on, announce imposition, and just see what the most resilient, driven, passionate, intelligent group of people in Britain do next. Bring it on. 
In the meantime Jeremy rakes in a cool million a year and as you can see from the letter above, doesn't work at the weekends.
Petition here


  1. Well they are deliberately making the English National Health Service unworkable, just as they did with British Rail, so when it is down on it's knees people will say it has to go it is too bad. Then good people of Scotland where do you think your NHS will be, you get your money from the same place it is just being run better so far.To those who could not see the wood for the trees, well sad.
    I know two young junior Doctors working in the SNHS, I recognise their worth.

    1. Yes although this is an English problem, it's cut cut cut and then sell off. Jeremy wants it sold off.. He wrote a book about it.

      So where does that leave us?

      While we remain attached to the UK, we will still have to suffer Tory policies, even in areas which are devolved.

      But someone as thick as Hunt is taking on, as the guy said, some very clever, resourceful and articulate people. And these clever people are in demand. In Scotland , NI, Wales, Jersey, Guernsey, Man, Canada, New Zealand, America, Australia...

      And many other places.

      Then where will he be?

  2. There have been many ministers over the years in all parliaments who have had the Health portfolio. It is certainly a very difficult one to manage, and I do not envy them one bit. Scotland has problems in the NHS, Wales has problems as does Northern Ireland. But nothing is perfect.

    But what is happening in England under Hunt is shocking.

    I have used the NHS in both England and Scotland, and the staff are dedicated. Yes there will be a few problems, but you get that in any profession.

    Personally, I do not believe that a politician should be given the health portfolio unless they have a related background. Only then would you truly have someone who understands the daily problems.

    Hunt is a disaster for the NHS, as IDS is to the benefits system. Like benefits, the NHS does need reforming, but Hunt is systematically destroying it. However, this is not the miners and Scargill he is dealing with. Scargill lost a lot of public sympathy and he is as much to blame for the collapse of that industry as anyone else.

    The public is backing the doctors. I certainly am and fully support their action. The decision to strike goes against all their beliefs, but they have been forced into it. Not even Thatcher would allow Hunt to get away with what he is doing.

    Hunt has lost control. He needs to be removed immediately. He has lost the confidence of not only the medical profession, but the public.


    1. Health is one of the departments where you will NEVER have enough money.

      No matter who is secretary; no matter what party is running the government there will always be room for complaint.

      Not enough money being spent on cancer; not enough on mental health, not enough on the elderly. No one will ever get it right.

      In France, the health service is excellent. The WHO said it was the best public health service in the world, yet I've heard complaints about it.

      Of course ministers are only supposed to control the political direction of the services in their control. Clearly medical decisions must be made by people trained to decide. Hunt is far away from that, despite the photocalls (made by all parties). One of the political decisions, at least in England, where the government controls both the health service and the Treasury, is the decision to spend 9% of GDP ion health. In France they spend 11%, as do the Germans and Belgians...

      They pay more; they get a better service.

      Maybe we need to pay more.

      As the population ages and more and more expensive cures and treatments are possible, we will all have more and more complaints about our health services, no matter how much we spend.

      It would be hard to ensure that you always had a medical man as your Minister for Health. What happens if you have no medical doctors among your team? What happens if you do have one, but (s)he has no ability to manage a team? What happens if the rest of the medical profession is angered by the medical person at the top pushing funding towards their particular speciality to the detriment of others...And on and on...

      Would you want Liam Fox in charge of your health service?

      (Although maybe I'd not mind Philippa Whitford!)

      Hunt appears capable of getting up everyone's nose. A difficult job calls for someone who knows how to do at least a part of the job.

      He appears to have no idea about any of it.

      I totally agree that he needs to be moved. He won't win with the doctors. How he is going to cope with that level of failure i have no idea.

      We are told that there will be a reshuffle after the EU referendum. I hope Cameron takes that opportunity to invite Hunt to spend more time learning Mandarin, preferably at his own expense this time.

  3. Are you Yes yet?

    Okay round here most of us were yes to begin with but everything we said would happen with a no vote has happened. The NHS WILL be sold off, the welfare state IS being destroyed and I'll take no lectures from Scottish politicians who spent two years telling us we were Better Together now telling us how the poor should pay more tax just so services can stand still.

    I recommend you watch Dispatches this week with Greg Wise going undercover to expose aggressive tax avoidance and evasion then tell me I need to pay more for less. Okay Greg Wise urged us to vote no too but he's right in this!

    Rant over - looking forward to Soppy Sunday. But the rant will start again if there are no orange people, I warn you now :-) It's that Hunt - he raises my blood pressure...

    1. Well, if you are going to have high blood pressure, you best not go to England. Their health service is on its knees and Richard Branson seems to be buying it up, as per Mr Hunt's book.

      Now I once went to a trip to England (Bradford it was) to see Pet in concert... and I travelled by Virgin trains. Of course I wanted the cheapest so I went Dundee Edinburgh; Edinburgh Leeds; Leeds Bradford. Bradford York; York Dundee. 5 trains, 4 of which were Virgin; the same four that were late. The whole thing was a nightmare. We were held up for 2 hours outside Edinburgh and I thought I might miss my concert, for which I had paid £100. Reward was it was a great concert and had a brilliant blether with Ms Clark afterwards.

      But seriously Virgin Trains were a disaster.

      I just wonder if Mr Branson will be able to do a better job skimming money off the top of the health service.

      I'll watch Despatches on Catch Up. Thanks.

      Dunno if there will be any orange people in Sloppy Sunday. Might not have room...........

      OK OK OK OK... I was joking.

      There will be.


  4. tris

    What make me laugh is this idea a increase in basic wage ( thank you very much ) but a decrease
    In your overall pay with more unsocial working is fair Hunt says and most torys and a few Labour as well....
    The problem is having been down the imposed shift change with weekend working meself
    on more than one occasion . I found most jumped up and down a few left but in the end needs
    Must and the majority reluctantly went onto the new hours.
    Now that was in a manufacturing facility but then Doctors etc have mortgages / families etc
    So unless something spectacular happens my expectation is they will finally move onto
    The new contracts accepting/ signing the contract is totally irrelevant under the capatalist laws
    after 13 weeks you are deemed to have agreed to the new contracts .Arent English judges wonderfull .

    1. Of course Niko. Most won;t be able to up and leave for Australia or Wales or Jersey. But I rather suspect that quite a lot of them are young, single and very resourceful people, many of whom won;t yet have mortgages (paying off horrific debts form 7 years of tertiary education).

      At least some will leave. He can't afford to lose one single doctor.

      It seems the Tories can do what they like with contracts, and if they think there will be opposition from Labour or the SNP they will pass an Order in Council and it will be done anyway.

      Hey ho.

  5. Did I just make this up? I seem to recall that the ridiculous hours that Junior Doctors were working were a concern, in as much as towards the end of their ridiculously long rota, their decision making would become, err, less than perfect.

    And now we have the fat controllers in Westminster doing what? Recinding on agreed levels of staffing to patients or what?

    There are times when I hate the tories, and that is when I have a sunny disposition.

    As PP says, looking forward to tommorrow. This doom and gloom drives me crazy.

    1. Yes, please Mr Cameron, let the person who is making a life and death decision about how much of that drug to give me, or whether I need an operation or if it will do on Monday, be absolutely exhausted and drained from making decisions like that all shift. After all, if he/she makes a mistake, it doesn't matter. I didn't go to Eton or Oxford, otherwise I'd be in a private hospital.

    2. It's in preparation Douglas... Fear ye not!

  6. Niko - that is the crux of the matter. Jeremy H*nt is trying to sell a contract that leads to worse hours and a 30% pay cut as a 13% pay rise. When he hasn't got his own way he now threatens the nuclear option.

    The man is a menace and the English juniors are rightly angry. Short-term we may benefit from it as some may flee North.

    Chaos and collapse in the English NHS would harm us all eventually (specialist services cross-border, possible budget cuts/private involvement) and I would be sad to see patients down south suffer too.

    The contract imposition thing is an interesting principle. If he manages to get away with it now, why not nurses, physics, admin staff etc? The chaos and anger will proliferate - perhaps this is what he wants.

    If they can sell the line of bolshy and entitled NHS staff holding back reform, maybe those nice folks at Virgin Care or Serco could help?

    I am glad I work in Scotland, our Government is being so much more sensible with the NHS (it isn't perfect, but it never was and never will be).

    However, it is inevitable that as long as we remain in the UK, we are vulnerable to systemic changes (our overall budget, healthcare regulation etc are not in our control and the effects of TTIP are unpredictable)

    Sorry for the long post.

    A rural GP

  7. Douglas

    Yes, they are looking to reduce the maximum hours a doc can legally work (from 91 to 71 in a week) but with changes that make the maximum average go from 48 back to 56 and removing any penalties for non-compliance.

    The last point is the most concerning, as employers may feel freer to break the rules.

    1. Hi Doug. Interesting to hear from a member of the profession on this. This is a pretty emotional subject given the affection that people feel for whatever NHS they are part of. Some insider input is most welcome.

      Hunt terrifies me. Clearly his input into that book before he was a minister, indicated where he feels the NHS should be going. I'm very far from convinced that I want to see a privatised service.

      Most especially because, as you say its likely to be Serco or Virgin.... or G4S, Crapita or Atos, and god only knows what kind of a mess they would make of it.

      If Hunt imposes a contract and gets away with it, as you say, what next?

      And not just inside the NHS. Next the Civil Service?

      It seems to me that our government has been more sensible than the English/UK government on this and many other matters over the years (including the period of Liberal/Labour government). Perhaps a smaller organisation is easier to manage, perhaps we've just been blessed with better people in the management.

      I hope it stays that way.

      (Never apologise for the length of your post. It wasn't really that long anyway, but if they're interesting and informative, we don't care how long posts are!)

      We'd appreciate any more insights if you'd care to share them here or by contacting me direct

    2. Like Tris, I think it's great to hear from people who know exactly what is happening.

      Hunt is so arrogant that he will attack other areas of the NHS. I don't understand why he will not accept that he is wrong. I do appreciate that he wants a 7 day NHS, but we already have this.

      Please correct my assumptions here Doug:

      Some of the NHS services have operate on a Mon to Fri basis, as it is more practical. Routine clinics for example, given that public transport may be more difficult at weekends for both patients and staff. Weekends are busier in some departments, most likely A&E, and that will pull resource from other areas.

      Tris, the civil service is already being torn apart. I'm not going into detail, but you can be rest assured that at least one department is making 33% cuts. Departments and areas which have work related to this are now experiencing heavier workloads, and this is causing pure bloody hell. I know that HMRC (I don't work there) has had massive cuts yet expect their staff to manage the same workload.

      There are a lot of seemingly unrelated threads weaving together. IDS and Hunt are imposing policies that fly in the face of independent professional advice. Union law is being imposed that will effectively neuter trade unions (although the junior doctors screwed that!). There must be even more changes to come, and the change in union law is to prevent any organised protest.

      That's why I truly believe that the UK is heading for a general strike that will bring down the government. No one in their right mind wants such a strike, as everyone is impacted. But something now needs to change, because Cameron is even more arrogant than Blair or Brown ever were, something I didn't believe was possible.

      Apologies for my long post!


    3. Oh, stop with the apologies for long posts! :)

      Yes of course you are right. Many functions of the Civil Service are now being looked after by private companies. perhaps most noticeable in the DWP, but I noted with some amazement the other day, that Google is responsible for some tax collection. What!

      These departments become less and less efficient. We all know about the number of people who have been left penniless becasue of errors or emissions by the DWP. Some have even died.

      I had a letter a few years ago telling me I had underpaid tax, and they changed my code and took money away from me, then after a couple of years they wrote to say I'd been paying too much tax and here was a cheque for £600+ including interest!

      I think I read that union bosses are saying that they will not obey the strikes law. A government elected on 28% of the electorate wants to impose a "majority of the membership" rule.

      It's almost as ironic as the idea of Google collecting taxes.

      I certainly don't WANT a general strike to bring down the government, but if it happens, hell mend them.

    4. So it's all smoke and mirrors then? 91 hours a week works out at 13 hours per day spread over seven days. Reducing it to 71 means it's still a smidge over ten hours a day, again spread over seven days. These figures become more ridiculous if the shift pattern actually accommodates days off, for example two days off a week, which is pretty well standard for most folk, results in 71 / 5 = 14.2 hour days.

      Assuming that the opinion piece correctly represents the situation we have moved from Defcon 1 to Defcon 2, neither of which is desireable.

      I note your concerns about the lack of penalities for non-compliance. 'Tis a joke what they do.

    5. Not sure what the latest state of play is but it looks a bit like Hunt is going to have problems enforcing the contract becasue the Health Board chiefs (who supposedly agreed with him) don't want to enforce it.

      Apparently hundreds of doctors have been looking at posts abroad, and I saw a tweet for one who has decided to make her career in Scotland.

      I really think Hunt's days are numbered.

  8. I read with deep regret the news that Jeremy Hunt has decided to impose the new junior doctors contract (Report, 12 February). What Jeremy Hunt has managed to achieve is nothing short of spectacular. Health secretaries have come and gone, imposing new measures of varying unpopularity on the NHS but not one has managed to so completely unite doctors in their dislike and alienate healthcare workers across the board in the way he has. He says we lack vocation, he paints us as the problem. The morale of the workforce is at breaking point. With imposition, the goodwill of doctors who work hours beyond those they are rota-ed and paid to do will dry up.

    The health secretary is not even clear on what he means by a seven-day-week NHS. He continues to misuse research to support his arguments. He has been told the statistics he uses are not correct, meaning he is either dishonest or stupid. I don’t know which is worse. He demonises the BMA, and lies about their actions. They are not a militant union; they are the very moderate voice representing junior doctors in the UK.

    I am one of the many junior doctors who have left the UK. If he goes ahead with imposition of contract, I am certainly unlikely to return to the UK to continue clinical practice. The health secretary has alienated an entire generation of junior doctors. We have no confidence in him. He must be sacked.

    Dr Hannah Mitchell

    Gaborone, Botswana

    Add Botswana to the places junior doctors might think of going.

    1. Sorry, I should have said, the above is a letter printed in Guardian.

  9. Zog

    That is a fair summary of why Mon-Fti services are organised that way. Weekend services could work, but would require all NHS staff to work longer (not just docs) as well as changes to public transport.

    This, in turn, would require either 40% more staff (for same level) or 29% less staff of a day (for same money). That is making the assumption that weekend working would attract no premium.

    The thought of docs sitting in outpatient clinics on Sunday with no support is laughable. (As an aside, I suspect Hunt would prefer staff to work more/cover said weekends st no extra cost)

    At weekends, emergency services are very well staffed (not just A&E but various specialties and out of hours GP) with non-NHS entities such as Social Work often falling short at weekends, leading to patients staying in hospital for e.g. lack of care. Not their fault, but a reflection of staffing/funding.


    The 91 hours was 7 x 13 hour shifts (e.g. a week of long night shifts) which I remember leaving me wrecked. It is best they go and many places have already moved from them even before this change.

    Having said that, you are correct about the 56 hours being an average, with that covering all routine days, on-call time and nights/weekends as well as days off.

    1. As Jon Snow pointed out to Hunt, there seems little problem for patients to see a junior doctor at the weekend. The problem is that senior doctors are not working.

      It seems to me that if they want more coverage they will have to have more staff (as you say, at all levels from senior doctors to admin). Otherwise they rob Peter to pay Paul. If they have more staff it will cost more money. But Osborne has told Hunt to save vast amounts more money in the next 5 years.

      Even Tories should know that that just won't compute.

      To explain to them in terms of things they know about, if they are going to have a garden party every single day of the week instead of every second day, they will require to order a lot more champagne, Pimms and petit fours! If they have Wimbledon twice a year, instead of once, they will require more strawberries. And if they are going to shoot for an extended season, they will have to get some more grouse.

      OK Tories? Got it now?

  10. Doug,

    Well, thanks for the info. I'd assume that most people here, well, all people here, would be with you in your fight. Frankly, if they can treat doctors with the disrespect that you outline here, then binmen and traffic wardens have no hope whatsoever. Thin edge of a wedge strategy, perhaps?

    I mean, if they can knock doctors down, then there is little hope for the rest of us.

    Best wishes.

    1. This blog is 100% behind the junior doctors in England.

      As you say Douglas. If they can do it to doctors, they can do it to the rest of us. And probably more easily.

      We really need to show them that they cannot.

      It'#s a bit simple really. Jeremy Hunt and his band of Tory toffs v. a bunch of the most intelligent, dedicated, brave, hard working people in the country, with support from the bulk of the population.

      We really cant let the nobs win.