21 July 2015


Dear Jeremy*,

Thank you so much for criticising doctors (and particularly consultants) in the NHS for not working weekends, and in particular for saying that the absence of consultants leads to 6000 deaths in the UK each year.

I've been a doctor in the NHS for four years now, and let me tell you of my experiences (I'm going to bullet-point it so that it's easy to understand):
  • I have never worked a weekend in a hospital where I haven't worked with a consultant.
  • The last set of night-shifts that I worked, the consultant was still in the hospital when I arrived at 10pm, I spoke to him again at 2am, and he was back in the hospital again at 8am.
  • I've seen the medical director for the hospital at 3am on more than one occasion, and many, many senior nursing staff in overnight at weekends.
  • I have never worked a weekend where a patient needed an urgent intervention or senior decision and it wasn't possible.
  • I've missed family weddings (my cousin), my grandmother's 80th birthday, and multiple birthday parties for nieces and nephews.
    • My mother still hasn't truly forgiven me for missing some of them.
  • I don't think that we're badly paid, but trying to suggest changing our contract again so that we all get a pay cut is fairly low. Especially in the same week that all politicians get a backdated 10% pay rise.
I've worked hard to get where I am today, and I care passionately about the NHS, but perhaps Jeremy Hunt needs to look deeper at the sacrifices that doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, pharmacists, healthcare assistants, porters, radiographers, paramedics and technicians all make in order to try and make our NHS great.

Read more information about the backstory on this in The Guardian article

*Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health

No comments: