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A Meeting with Jeremy Hunt

Nursing Notes

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A Meeting with Jeremy Hunt

As assignations go, this one could have been like a date with the devil. An hour in a room with Jeremy Hunt? For many of my 53,000 junior doctor colleagues, this might be their worst nightmare.

Actually, the reality was rather different.

Last night I met Jeremy Hunt in the heart of the parliament buildings. I was one of the two doctors who were invited from outside the Department of Health to talk. Why were we outside the DoH you ask? A group of junior doctors launched the peaceful indefinite protest 8 days ago now to highlight Jeremy’s unwillingness to return to negotiations over the junior doctor contract. An empty chair with his name sits beckoning for resolution.
So on my day off I turned up at 9 am to wait for a chance to talk.  The support from the public, MPs, civil servants and the BMA has been overwhelming.

RELATED: JUNIOR DOCTORS PLAN ‘ALL-OUT’ STRIKE.

His advisor and secretary turned up at our protest around 17:30 and asked if we wanted to talk to Jeremy.  I did not feel rushed to go meet him but there was a definite – ‘now is the only good time’ feel. As we walked up the steps to his parliamentary office, I carried the weight of 53000 doctors hoping he’d change his mind about imposing his contract.

Was I nervous? No. I genuinely wasn’t. And the reason is this: I don’t care anymore how it started, the whole ‘he said/he said’ arguments between the BMA and Jeremy, which I can never verify because they occurred behind closed doors. Nor do I care about which point was the sticking point in negotiations. Do I want a pay cut? No. Do I want to do more night shifts? Definitely not. I know the NHS is a political bargaining chip but I even don’t care at this stage which government is tinkering with it. What matters is the patients. We need a solution, a repair and – to go one further – an improvement to the relationship between junior doctors and Jeremy Hunt. Because only in that way will we break this deadlock.

What was most striking during our meeting was the disconnect, the mismatch. We both said we want to protect patients and improve services. He trusts and respects Bruce Keogh and David Dalton, yet we junior doctors on the frontline know they are outdated and no longer have their finger on the pulse of the NHS or the lives of junior doctors. He seems to genuinely believe his new contract will save lives at weekends, we know that – contract or no contract – we simply do not have enough doctors as it is.  We are papering over the cracks in the NHS with goodwill. There are so many rota gaps I get daily emails from multiple hospitals asking for locum cover. He says he will hire another 5000 doctors, we know these ‘extra’ doctors just don’t exist. And if they did, what on earth would make them want to come work in England, where a contract is being forced upon them?

We had a civilised conversation, not a slanging match, and I asked a lot of questions, about staffing levels, safety, funding, statistics interpretation and how we came to this impasse.  Nothing new was said but under-running this discussion was the feeling that he believes what he says, though we know some, if not most of it is flawed.

Jeremy Hunt may think he is doing the best thing for us, but myself and the 53,000 doctors in uproar over this know that contract imposition is far from the best thing for our patients, us, or the future of the NHS.

So I asked the ‘what if’ question. What if you could have anything in exchange for removing imposition? His reply? ‘Nothing’.

Is there really nothing he would ask for in exchange for removal of the imposition and to work with junior doctors?
And so, sadly, the peaceful protest outside the DoH goes on in the hopes of future negotiations.

I stand for my patients and for my colleagues but, if Jeremy genuinely stands for improving the NHS, surely we should be on the same page? What would it take, Jeremy? Call me naïve, but I stand by this: it is never too late for us to find a solution together if the imposition is removed. The olive branch is there to take up. Let us pick up a clean slate and move forward together: what would it take, Jeremy?

This post was originally posted on the website of Alex Murray a Junior Doctor in the NHS. 

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Adam Kay’s Letter to the Secretary of State for Health

Matt B

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Adam Kay's Letter to the Secretary of State for Health

Adam Kay, a former Doctor, publishes an open letter to the Secretary of State for Health calling for him to walk a mile in the shoes of a junior doctor.

In his new book, ‘This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor,’ the former obstetrics and gynaecology doctor writes candidly about his experiences as a junior doctor and the effect working in medicine has on both his personal and professional life.

In the open letter to The Secretary of State for Health, he said;

“Roger Fisher was a professor of law at Harvard University, who suggested back in 1981 that they should implant the American nuclear codes in the heart of a volunteer. If the President wanted to press the big red button and kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people, then first he’d have to take a butcher’s knife and dig it out of the volunteer’s chest himself; so that he realizes what death actually means first-hand, and understands the implications of his actions. Because the President would never press the button if he had to do that.

“Similarly, you and your successor and their successors for ever more should have to work some shifts alongside junior doctors. Not the thing you already do, where a chief executive shows you round a brand-new ward that’s gleaming like a space station. No: palliate a cancer patient; watch a trauma victim have their leg amputated; deliver a dead baby. Because I defy any human being, even you, to know what the job really entails and question a single doctor’s motivation. If you knew, you would be applauding them, you’d be proud of them, you’d be humbled by them, and you’d be eternally grateful for everything they do.

“The way you treat junior doctors demonstrably doesn’t work. I strongly suggest you seek a second opinion.

If you’re interested in reading more, you can buy a copy of his book on Amazon or book tickets for his ongoing tour.

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The Junior Doctors Survival Guide written by Nurses

Matt B

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The Junior Doctors Survival Guide written by Nurses

Well done. Congratulations. You’ve survived medical school and made it ‘on to the shop floor’, this is where the real test begins.

Your first few weeks as a Junior Doctor are going to be difficult and jam-packed; a new hospital, new colleagues, new patients, and a new hospital system to figure out.

Here are ten tips that will stand you in good stead for your first day, week, month, year and beyond. This is your Junior Doctors Survival Guide as written by Nurses;

  • Respect the nurses. You can come to us for advice and guidance – we will have you back – but please don’t take us for granted. We have an abundance of knowledge about our patients, the hospital and how to make stuff happen.
  • Each member of the team is important. Doctors, nurses, porters, physiotherapists, domestics, estates, plumbers – the hospital simply couldn’t function without them.
  • Don’t be a smart arse. We know and understand you have worked hard through medical school and congratulations on becoming a Doctor, but now it’s time to get to work.
  • Have a sense of humor. Make sure your able to have a laugh and a joke but be careful not to cross the line.
  • Master cannulation. I don’t just mean know how to put a cannula in – develop the skill and master it – it will stand you in good stead for the future.
  • Eat and drink. The list of jobs is, and always will be, almost endless. Make sure you take your breaks; eat, drink and chat to your fellow colleagues.
  • Show emotion. I’m not going to lie to you, it’s going to be hard – medical school hasn’t prepared you for the first few months of life as a Doctor. If you’re having an especially tough day talk to someone about it. Don’t beat yourself up for having a little cry – it happens to the best of us.
  • Don’t just look at the numbers. We spend 12 hours a day with our patient, we will come to you when “something just isn’t right”, we don’t know what, we can’t put our finger on it. But, we know our patients.
  • Your first death is hard. Expected or not, nothing can prepare you for the death of your first patient. We have all been through this. See- show emotion and How to Deal with the Death of a patient
  • Tidy up after yourself. Nothing and I mean nothing, annoys the ward staff more than a Doctor who thinks the staff are there to clean up after them. Tidy away your sharps, notes and coffee cup.
  • Ask for help. Your seniors are there to support you – it’s literally their job. Don’t be afraid to escalate patients or situations to them and never put yourself in a situation where you have no backup.
  • Admit when you simply don’t know. Making up an answer to a question can have serious consequences. If you don’t know. Say, but find out.
  • Try to go home on time. Look through your list – find out what can wait until tomorrow. Your downtime and social life are important too (check out our list of NHS Discounts for downtime ideas). You work to live not live to work.
  • The hospital at night is scary. There are fewer doctors, nurses and seniors around to support you. Call for help early and escalate appropriately.

Remember, you are part of our team. Our job is to work together in the interests of patient care. We will try to look after you, make you tea when you’re sad and, rest assured, we will tell you when you’re being an idiot.

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