Policy & Management

It’s time to get behind the junior doctors before it’s too late

You might ask yourself why am I supporting the junior doctors protest? I’m a nurse, not a doctor. Why get involved? But I tell you, the fight of junior doctors is the fight of all of us.

They are two things in the new junior doctor contract that are of huge concern to me:

1. The removal of safeguards

The safeguards that prevent mistakes being made when doctors work dangerously long hours will be removed. Not so long ago, junior doctors were working over 100 hours a week. It was relentless, traumatic and frankly, dangerous. Then, after years of lobbying the European Working Time Directive was passed into law and gradually the average number of weekly hours they were allowed to work started to shrink. But with the new contract, there is no such system of monitoring. Doctors will be expected to go to their employers and ask for a ‘work review’ if they’re worried about their hours, which they won’t do because they’re too busy, which they’ll feel bad about doing, and which they’ll be quietly punished for doing. Back to the 1980s.

2. The change to unsocial hours

 At the moment junior doctors are paid “standard” time for working during normal working hours,  defined as 7am-7pm Monday to Friday. But the new deal would see this extended to 07:00 to 22:00 Monday to Saturday - meaning the number of working hours classified as "normal" will be increased by 50%. Working a Saturday night will be the same as working a Tuesday morning.

For me it’s clear If the government imposes the new junior doctor’s contract, nurses will be next. We can say goodbye to our unsocial hours. In last 5 years our salaries have been frozen. What does that mean? It means that because of the increase cost of living we actually have had a pay cut of around 15%. The double impact of frozen pay and the effects of inflation is seriously eroding the living standards of health workers across the UK.

Now if the government significantly reduces the junior doctors' unsocial hours payments, our unsocial hours payments will be next. Technically we will suffer a pay cut of more than a £1000 a year. I don’t know about you, but I’m struggling to make end meet every month. Our morale is at an all-time low. Two thirds of us said they had seriously thought about leaving their job. A job we love but can no longer afford to do!

Also if new junior doctor contract is imposed and remove the safeguards, patient safety will be compromised. At the moment due increase work pressures we are struggling to deliver the care we want. Everybody is stretched to their limits but for how long can we sustain this situation?

We cannot stand by and watch. We do not have the luxury of waiting to see what happens. If the junior doctor contract is imposed, it will be too late for all of us.

Once again the RCN and Unison are playing the waiting game and see what happens. For me it’s not good enough. We need to break the silence; it’s time to make our voices heard. We cannot wait for others. You have the power to stand up and say enough is enough. If each one of us goes back to their place of work and convinces another health worker, and this person convinces another, our voice will be soon very loud. Now is the moment to shout. I ask for each one of you tomorrow to email your MP: ( http://e-activist.com/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1742&ea.campaign.id=43023 ) or write a letter to your union to put some pressure ( https://www.rcn.org.uk/contactus or https://www.unison.org.uk/about/contact ). Let’s join forces and make some pressure together. It matters to all of us. Its crunch time for the NHS and we need to stick together.


Let’s force them to act.  Let’s join forces and put them under pressure. If we sum each one of our small actions together, we can make a big difference. Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world, indeed it's the only thing that ever has!! Let’s do it together. There is a time in your life that you need to choose between carry on and keep quiet or stand up and fight. This time is now! Let’s fight!!

You might ask yourself why am I supporting the junior doctors protest? I’m a nurse, not a doctor. Why get involved? But I tell you the fight of junior doctors is the fight of all of us.