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

07 July 2015

10 years ago

Ten years ago today I was working in a hospital, cleaning up and finishing off domestic work. I hadn't started medical school at that point, and it was summer break from university.

The news said that there had been power surges all over the underground in London, and that further news would be updated.

It was the day after the UK had won the bid for the Olympic Games for 2012.

I didn't think a great deal of it at the time. I carried on working, along with other staff.

Only as the morning went on, did we hear more about what had really happened.

I remember being horrified at what we were hearing; co-ordinated terror attacks on public transport.

My thoughts are with the families of those who died, and the survivors who are reliving it today.

18 March 2015


Burnout (or 'carer fatigue') is a subject close to my heart. 

Of my colleagues who I started with as a foundation doctor, I don't know a single one who, at some point, hasn't felt drained and exhausted to the point of becoming unwell.

I know that I've wanted to quit medicine a fair few times over the last 3.5 years, and I'm sure that's something that will happen again during my career.

The strain placed on doctors to work effectively despite (often) very demanding rotas seems counterproductive:  nursing staff are even often surprised by our unusual working schedule, and have frequently asked (across all of my many rotations), 'do you ever go home?' The answer often feels like 'no'. 

I've worked stints of shifts where you work 12 days consecutively, followed by 2 days off, and then another 12 days. Many of these days are in excess of 10 hours rota'ed.

The problem with junior staff complaining about this, is that consultants often feel that we are complaining unnecessarily, and that when they were junior doctors there was no European Working Time Directive. It's a difficult issue to address.

I've just completed the BMA burnout questionnaire (you can find it here), and the result wasn't particularly unexpected. 

Just food for thought.

14 March 2015

Plodding along

I realised last week that it has been almost a year since I posted here.
In honesty, I don't have the heart to say goodbye to the blog completely, but don't have the time to blog as regularly as I like.

I'm still working as a junior doctor (senior house officer) in the NHS - trying to combine a personal life with jumping through the hoops (and paying the money) to keep my portfolio updated and my skills up to date.

I will be back....