Doctors ‘are thinking about quitting’ NHS

Staff on strike outside Blackpool Victoria Hospital.  Pictured L-R Carrick Allison, Ronan O'Neill, Anna Smith, Sophie Harding, Iona Morrison and Claire Ashley.
Staff on strike outside Blackpool Victoria Hospital. Pictured L-R Carrick Allison, Ronan O'Neill, Anna Smith, Sophie Harding, Iona Morrison and Claire Ashley.
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Junior doctors working at Blackpool Victoria Hospital are ‘genuinely considering’ quitting, it has been claimed.

The ongoing row over contracts, which saw doctors up to consultant level walk out in a 48-hour strike earlier this week, has left morale at a low, one insider said.

The doctor, who did not want to be named, spoke to The Gazette ahead of two further 48-hour strikes next month.

“I just know there’s no junior doctor I have spoken to who has not considered their options and who has not thought about what they could do as an alternative,” he said. “This hasn’t always been the case, it’s since the row over the new contracts occurred.

“Everybody grumbles about work, but this is not that, it’s a genuine reconsideration of personal circumstances.

“When we signed up for the job, we knew there would be long, hard hours, but if we’re going to be working longer hours and bringing home less money, are those in couples or with families going to continue?

“It’s very troubling.”

This week’s strike saw three operations and 148 appointments cancelled, while residents living on the Fylde coast were urged to consider whether trips to A&E were necessary.

It was the third strike by members of the British Medical Association (BMA), which is seeking a judicial review over health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s decision to impose new contracts on junior doctors – everyone up to consultant level – after months of talks with the BMA failed to reach a resolution.

The major sticking point has been over weekend pay and whether Saturdays should attract extra ‘unsocial hours’ payments.

Currently, 7pm to 7am Monday to Friday and the whole of Saturday and Sunday attracts a premium rate of pay for junior doctors.

The Government wanted the Saturday day shift to be paid at a normal rate in return for a hike in basic pay.

The BMA rejected this and urged Mr Hunt to reduce the offer of basic pay and instead have better premium rates on Saturdays.

The imposed contract, which is due to come into force in August, has an increase in basic salary of 13.5 per cent.

Under the new arrangements, Mr Hunt said no doctor working contracted hours would see a pay cut while too many night shifts and long shifts will be limited.

But 7am to 5pm on Saturdays will be regarded as a normal working day.

The hospital trust declined to comment.