team “i’m going to spend every fucking day of setlock wondering ‘what if it’s today. what if today is when those two men are going to kiss each other senseless and film it and personally plot my demise. what if it’s happening right now’ and mortifying myself about it to an extremely unhealthy degree while constantly wallowing in it and whimpering”.
Yesterday, our Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt was interviewed by Andrew Marr for the BBC. For those of you who can access BBC iPlayer, it can be viewed at the above link (please remember to take your antihypertensives beforehand!). I didn’t watch it over the weekend, having caught a bug from my patients and spent the weekend recuperating.
I just watched it, and am summarising the main points as they came up. AM= Andrew Marr (the interviewer) JH= Jeremy Hunt JD= Junior Doctors
The intervew starts with talking about diabetes and obesity, and the possibility of a ‘sugar tax’ or something similar to try to decrease sugar consumption in the UK. Celebrity cook Jamie Oliver was shown on the programme just before this interview, and JH responds to some of his points. Which is good for Mr Oliver, but a bit sad that he takes Jamie more seriously than 50,000 of his own key staff.
He admits the ‘excess deaths’ are multifactorial; many kinds of issues and staffing.
AW mentions that Bruce Keogh himself declared it would be ‘rash and misleading’ to assume a cause for ‘11,000 excess deaths’ when the paper itself does not account for many factors.
JH says JDs work hard. Of course we do.
He mentions Mid Staffs. Does not even begin to explain the multifactorial problems that cause large scalefailings such as Mid Staffs.
AM points out people admitted on the weekends are already more sick (because there are less elective admissions on weekends), however JH denies this.
JH admits we will haver have the ‘same level’ of staffing at weekends and admits we won’t do as much eletive proceures over the weekend. This is despite his constant clamouring for a ‘7 day NHS’, and in spite of the fact that we obviously already have one.
AM points out that JH claimed that JD rostering is responsible for those excess deaths. JH denies this and argues Bruce Keogh meant something totally different with his assertions about making assumptions about the causes of the ‘excess deaths’. AM asks JH to agree that junior doctors alone are not responsible for the ‘11,000 excess deaths’. JH patently refuses to agree to this.
JH claims he wants what doctors want.
JH claims he does not want to cut JD pay and that for most (75%) pay will go up, and that none will be worse off. And that the pay cost will be neutral. AM points out this is mathematically impossible. JH says that in the short term it may cost more but then ultimately will cost less. AM points out that if more doctors work on weekends they will have to be paid more money.
JH leads onto that this is why he wants to reduce the ‘premiums’ i.e. banding paid for weekend working. This is it. He effectively admits that he wants to pay us less for weekend working so that he can make us all work more weekends more cheaply.
JH claims JDs will still get higher premium for weekends after this than nurses, porters, ambulance drivers. Please do not play the ‘divide and conquer card’. All my colleagues in arms know that if he can unilaterally rearrange doctors’ working conditions at will to suit a political agenda, he can do the same to them.
You did not just call paramedics ambulance drivers!!! These are the highly skilled professionals who keep our patients alive log enough to reach our care.
AM points out that if it is a good deal, then the proposed ‘pay protection’ offered to current doctors for the next 3 years would not have to exist. ‘Pay protection’, as it is offered currently means that most doctors will not earn less next year than what they are earning for their current job today, however the new doctor filing their shoes in their old job will still be earning less than what they did this year. JH just says that it is complex.
JH claims the new contract will be better for doctors. He mentions that there are less consultants on weekends. This is not about consultants, at all! This contract has no effect whatsoever on consultant staffing!
He likens himself to Nye Bevan. Oh no you don’t. I suspect history will judge JH differently to how he thinks.
He again claims consultants can choose to avoid working on weekends, despite most consultants not opting out at all. This has already been disproven.
He says the government have raised the budget considerably. AM points out that thisis nowhere near enough.
AM reads some JD quotes from doctors who feel demoralised:
“Mr Hunt has made me feel demoralised, insulted and cheap. He implies we are the problem, when I give my life to the nhs. It is so grim on the fontline now, I sometimes work 14 or 15 hours straight without a second even to eat. I have never felt so despairing or so close to quitting medicine”.
“With so many patients to see, I am absolutely petrified I am too exhausted to look after them safely. If we are stretched evern more thinly over 7 days, I am certain patients will die”.
“The profession is at absolute breaking point. I see doctors in tears because they are so despairing about what the future holds. Jeremy Hunt has done this. He is driving away a whole generation of doctors.”
JH says BMA is lying about hours going up or pay being cut and that we are misled.
AM points out these quotes are about daily life, not what the BMA is telling us. JH blanks this point.
AM points out that the /king’s Fund suggests JH’s money will not stretch to his 7 day vision. JH claims his words are being distorted.
AM asks JH if he thinks his language has been ‘adroit’.
AM points out that “They are still absolutely furious with you. 98% of these highly educated, hardworking people have voted to strike. It can’t be everybody else’s fault but yours.”
JH claims that record numbers of doctors.
AM points out that “record numbers of doctors doing their two years basic training and then going off to find a job somewhere else … 50% now leave to do something else and don’t go into the NHS because they are so horrified and demoralised before they even start.”
JH warns against snap judgements and claims he wants to do the right thing by patients. He says his door is always open. Again.
JH says he wants a paperless NHS because apparently junior doctors hate paperwork. We actually hate many things even more, but thanks for not asking what actually bothers us.
AM points out people now regard JH as toxic. JH claims he is like Nye Bevan because the BMA hated both. He claims this is part of being Health Secretary. Yet this is the first doctors’ strike in 40 years.
And that is a summary. I’m still processing his interview, but I’d be very interested in hearing other people’s thoughts.