Junior doctors – it’s time to talk

junior_doctors10:25 Wednesday 24th February 2016
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON Many comments from you on the NHS this morning, and whether or not harm is being done to it by the junior doctors’ strike, not forgetting that they take this oath to do no harm, whether it’s the junior doctors harming the NHS, whether it’s the Government or whether it’s you using services you don’t need to use. Grenville says, “Where is the truth in all of this? Why can’t Paul ..” says Grenville “.. not get the two sides on and ask them the real questions, to get past the scaremongery on both sides.” Well Grenville it’s funny you should say that, because we’ve tried all morning to get a Conservative to come on this show and argue that case. We have rung seven, count them, seven local Conservatives and MPs, and none of them are coming on. Are they all busy? Are they all busy Ben? Or they’re all doing other things? I don’t want to get this wrong. Perhaps on holiday?
PRODUCER BEN: Or just not replied.
PAUL STAINTON: In the toilet? They’ve not replied. So if there is a Conservative listening to the show who would like to put forward the Government’s point of view then please do in the interests of balance. because we like to be balanced on this show. However we do have Andy Monk who has called in. He works with UKIP. He wanted to talk so .. it’s a talk show. Andy, morning.
ANDY MONK: Morning. Morning Paul. How’s it going?
PAUL STAINTON: It’s alright. Where are the facts then? Let’s try and help Grenville out. We can’t get both sides on. We’ve had a doctor on, but we can’t get the Conservatives to come on. Who’s right in all of this?
ANDY MONK: Well basically the Government aren’t listening to the junior doctors. Both sides have to get back round the negotiating table. Imposing contracts just won’t work.

PAUL STAINTON: Well it’s too late now. They have.
ANDY MONK: Well that’s the problem. They have, but there’s also this possibility of legal challenges. But it’s never too late to get back round the actual negotiating table. At the moment, thousands of our highly trained and highly regarded junior doctors are leaving the NHS in droves for a new life in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada. And that can’t be right. The NHS is a great institution that needs to actually work, and to do that we need funding and proper training, because there’s such a lack of training courses for doctors and nurses, because there are limits which should be overturned so we can actually have an NHS that works. We’ve seen that locally in Peterborough with the ward closures at Peterborough Hospital several times in the last year or two, mainly because they just haven’t got the staff to man the wards.
PAUL STAINTON: It’s not just doctors though, is it? It’s not just doctors. People are going to A&E when they don’t need to go to A&E.
ANDY MONK: There is that, but also that’s because people can’t get to a GP, and we’ve got a vast shortage of GPs at the moment in the country. Because again the actual NHS is so demoralised with the lack of funding going in, going into the wrong places, and also the lack of training. There’s a massive shortage of GPs in training in this country.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. It’s not a badly paid profession though is it, being a GP. You never see a poor doctor, do you?
ANDY MONK: You say that though, but a junior doctor coming out of doing five years of their degree training is on £22,636 on their first year of training. They can obviously boost that up with the 72 hours/80 hours that they work. Even then the average pay for a junior doctor is around £36,000 with all that overtime.
PAUL STAINTON: And then they become a doctor or they become a clinician or they become …
ANDY MONK: Yes but that’s after many many years. And do we really want to make our doctors have the unpalatable decision of do they stay in the NHS where everything is changing in terms of contracts, where they’re forced into working longer and longer hours? And the only people that will suffer this are the actual patients, because the care for the patients must be paramount. And if you’ve got a tired doctor who is falling asleep as often happens on these long long shifts, that can’t be right. And things need to be done. Things need to be reformed. And they need to basically get round the negotiating table now, because if it carries on like this and it goes to legal challenges or it just keeps on happening like this, then more and more doctors will just be looking at leaving the NHS altogether, or looking abroad for a better contract.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes well maybe we should stop them looking abroad. Maybe if we’re training them, it’s our money, our training, maybe we should claim it back if they go abroad.
ANDY MONK: Yes you say that, but lawyers and solicitors, architects, they all have long training courses, but we don’t restrict them from looking to develop themselves further. There was a job in New Zealand recently in the press where they were offering £190,000 a year for a junior GP with no night or weekend work, a four day week, twelve weeks holiday, and being offered half of the GP practice.
PAUL STAINTON: Decisions, decisions, decisions.
ANDY MONK: People are having their heads turned by these things.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes it is a thorny old problem. But what you’re saying on behalf of UKIP this morning is just let’s get everybody back together.
ANDY MONK: Everyone needs to be back talking, because we know what’s going to happen. As in all industrial disputes, it ends up with people thrashing it out round a table. But in the meantime the only people who are going to suffer are the patients and their patient care. They need to get back round the negotiating table, both sides, and act sensibly and get things sorted.
PAUL STAINTON: Andy, thank you for calling in this morning. No Conservatives. Andy Monk for UKIP. Is he talking sense there? Time to talk, quickly.