So you’re a doc, a foreign cuisine, heading thirties and Corona Happened (Standing in unity)

Literally gawking at the video where Jeremy Vine is saying ‘they will start at their first day as a fully qualified doctor on almost 80,000 pounds’, pointing at ST 6-8 label with his marker. First of all, foundation year FY2 are fully GMC registered qualified doctors. Please get your facts straight. They carry an ‘arrest’ bleep. Meaning they are expected to lead resuscitation in case of cardiac events and are trained for it. Second like my colleagues rightly point out, Mr Vine does not seem to understand the reference of the umbrella term ‘junior doctors’ which includes trainees at various stages of their careers, those that just passed out from medical school Foundation 1 to ST 8, beyond which, it is ‘consultant level- specialist’. F1, F2, CT1, CT2, CT3/ST3, ST4, ST5, ST6, ST7, ST8. From core trainee year 3 (ST3), these ”junior doctors” in ‘quote’ will be posted individually on a night rotas to run the entire hospital with only two or three junior trainees under him/her; looking after the new admissions on medical or surgical take coming through Emergency while also being responsible for those already admitted. The ratio of doctor to patient at these times are quite critical. If you’re guessing 50:1, trust me, I am having a fit inside. Now whilst Mr Vine is making his comments seemingly undermining our title stating ‘junior’ from ‘junior doctors’ as ‘finding their feets’; the hospital trust/the management seems to have complete different views. They seem to be okay trusting a team of three/four doctors to run the entire thing. Ensure safety of three/four/five hundreds of patients in medical wards and those still incoming admissions via Emergency department team.

From and beyond ST3s junior doctors are individually operating, making complex decisions; of course, consultants are there to guide but as a part of training, these doctors are geared up to that expectations of functional level. NHS is overstretched. With volume of clinical and managerial work consultants have to do, more than 10 mins of consultation for each patient everyday will mean ‘ward round’ will never finish on time to get the jobs done. From day one of admission to the day of discharge of patients; whether it is creating paper works, ordering bloods/XRays/investigations, chasing those reports, prescribing medications, writing to your GPs or other specialities and signing official sick form leaves; a junior doctor will be involved all along the way in patient care. Undertaking most of these tasks requires one to be fully registered. Everything is medico-legal. 80K a year’ Mr Vine is implying at consultant or equivalent level after pay restoration, which for many of us will never be a straight route. Can you imagine the length of dedication and effort it takes to keep climbing up the grades, 10 years (from foundation to ST 8) after 5-6 years of medical school? Courses and exams at every level while also working? Despite that, there is no guarantee we will get into speciality ST number of our choice. May have to wait a year or few more still.

We are here working at 14£/hour. Mr Vine makes 290K annually! After all the work and length of years we have invested on our profession he feels we don’t deserve a restoration pay? That he is upset that we’d be earning at 80,000/annually at ST8/ consultant level? After at least 15 years of investment solely in this career? My father always said, ‘people who make easy money don’t value money therefore don’t value the pay of hard work. They are used to having it easy, think its easy for others too so don’t give a second thought on stealing it away‘. I am only saying, there might be a reason why he feels our demand is atrocious.

We are taken aback by Mr Vine’s comments made without doing a proper research on an open media platform. Spreading false information to the public.

I am due to book an exam soon called PACES that will cost me 657£. There is a course I would love to take that has a high pass rate of its candidates called ‘PassPACES’ course which I am planning to book, which costs 1595£. In addition to that I would like to purchase a book recommended by my colleagues for preparation, costs 56£. Albeit the cost for course itself I will be able to claim later from trust after following some procedures as a part of training, the exam fees and cost of books is all on me. And, its the ‘upfront payment’ that I need to submit that I don’t have. For which, people do take personal loans. My pay this month with 80% work rota was 2900 at ST3 level. And I am still waiting to claim relocation fees, that I previously didn’t use to but feel ‘from now’ I should because, moving 3 different locations has been stressful and burning hole in my account. All these expenses last month and this month. There is an element of added stress ‘some money’ would perhaps solve, you can comment its ‘money minded’ but try surviving living pay to pay with our job and professional commitment it comes with. Luckily I haven’t been as unfortunate as some of my colleagues who I know have moved to 6 different hospitals in 6 years period.

While we are on this discussion with topic of pay gaps and other inevitable subjects surrounding NHS, working environment, patient safety etc. I would like to advise all my colleagues, including IMG (International medical graduates) to consider joining BMA (British Medical Association). This is the only union we have that will voice concern for us. And ‘definitely’ indemnify yourself. With continuous changing environment within the trust, changing placements between different hospitals and various factors inter playing behind the scenes, despite meaning to do our best work to help our patients, we may experience multiple challenges, there are bound to be human errors and other errors. It is our duty in such circumstances to ensure our patients are compensated well and also, that we protect our registration number that we worked hard for.

NHS trust will protects its employees against clinical negligence, there are various other instances including GMC complain & investigations that doctors are not covered for. One of those is ‘Samaritan acts’. A doctor needs ti have indemnity cover for those. Helping someone who needs a medical attention by roadside, bear in mind, can potentially be a medico-legal lawsuit waiting. Yes, it doesn’t sound right does it? I don’t know how to explain why? Best way to put it might be using example of an youtube influencer who was talking about, ‘some lawyers in US sitting all day next to the park to catch one child having an accident at playground so that they can get along with the child’s parents and sue the Council for safety hazards among other things for compensation.’

The last I checked indeminity expense costs 48-84£ annually for basic coverage (quota from 3 different organisations). Depending on your circumstances whether you need it to be tailored to your needs, it will cost more.

Wonder if Mr Vine took into account of these expenses we make every year? Registration fee alone a year is costing me £420 annually at my level. Of course with 290K/year he perhaps doesn’t see it as an expense, for some of us it is still ‘a lot’. Luckily being an IMG, I don’t have big student debt I need to pay off now. I remember saying to my mom when I was at college level ‘ most parents I know leave their inheritance to their children, I am not asking that for us. I am only asking that you donot leave us with debts to divide individually over each of our heads’. Luckily I must say, they haven’t, as far as I know. Most of my colleagues who graduated here in the UK have not got that financial freedom and owe up to 90K on debt, taken bit by bit, monthly from their pays till God knows when.

As much as being kind, empathetic, going above and beyond for service is essential. It has become imperative for us in our medical profession as doctors, nurses and other allied health professionals to also look after ourselves. We need to stand up for ourselves, fight for ourselves so we can continue to give our best and do what we know how to do best and with best intentions in our hearts. Privatisation of NHS down one or two decades, in my opinion, is inevitable. Retention of staff is one key, this is where the topic ‘restoration of pay’ is being raised but the main thing is, ‘is the general public aware of how the NHS runs, the state of our public health systems?’. What will happen to people who can’t afford health insurance, don’t have 290k/year annual salary to pay for health services?

Author: Jasmine


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