“If government keeps abusing physicians, no matter the country of origin, medical care will suffer.” – SERMO Pediatrician, United States
Junior doctors in the UK have been locked in a dispute with the Government since last August over the proposal of a new contract involving pay cuts of up to 30 percent and the slashing of premium rates for doctors working between 7am and 10pm on every day apart from Sunday. Now, after three strikes that withdrew all but emergency action, UK Junior Doctors are preparing for another strike from Tuesday, 26 April to Thursday, 28 April, which will include a walkout of emergency care, as confirmed by the British Medical Association.
Junior doctors are not ‘new’ doctors. Indeed, the term “junior doctor” can be misleading, as it covers medics who have just graduated from medical school through to those who have more than a decade of experience on the front line, and it includes the grades of Foundation doctor and Specialty registrar.
Make no mistake; this is a major controversy that could cripple the UK medical system. A Pulmonologist practicing in the UK said, “It doesn’t need 90% of Junior [Doctors] to leave. If 5% go, the system will creak and collapse as its already stretched roots will collapse. My brother (a Junior Doctor), arguably one of the most experienced travel/infectious disease doctors in the country, has now quit the UK NHS for [a position in] Switzerland. He’s not coming back. There will be an exodus.”
SERMO doctors weighed-in and the edict is clear – from Junior Doctors, from their UK colleagues and leaders in the healthcare space, and now from doctors around the world – physicians stand with their colleagues in the UK.
Numerous conversations on SERMO shed further light on the challenges Junior Doctors face. As the discussions continued, many doctors realized that though they practice medicine in different countries, physicians around the world share similar challenges. Here is what some a few doctors had to say…
A Psychiatrist in the U.S. said, “The Government feels confident it can impose its will on the doctors because they have until 2020 before the next election. Let’s face it – doctors do not mind working extra hours, as long as they are remunerated.”
An Italian Orthopedic doctor shared a similar set of issues – “In Italy there is the same widespread unease as those making decisions for physicians have never practiced the profession. We are faced with increasingly demanding and risky work conditions due to the grueling pace and looming medical-legal disputes. Employment contract and salary increase negotiations are blocked or cut over time while there are tax increases that increasingly impoverish and demotivate doctors.”
A Canadian Obstetrics & Gynecology Physician compared the organization of doctors and nurses, commenting, “We should support the strike. The problem facing our profession is divide and rule. You will never find this nonsense with the Nursing unions – they stay strong and… [are] never afraid to strike. Unfortunately, our training has wired us differently, ‘suffering and smiling’.”
A Mexican Trauma Surgeon shared their experience, noting, “I thought this only happened in Mexico. Now I realize that’s not so… doctors are now seen as chess pieces that can be moved at will. Doctors in England have my full support.”
An Australian GP echoed the feeling, saying, “Absolutely, I support the [Junior] doctors. Doctors are the kind of people who suffer unnoticed all over the world. If they stand up, I assume the condition is unbearable. Surprisingly, we all have same feelings.”
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