Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Where have all the doctors gone?

Last week, New Town anaesthetics department had its “Junior Doctors Forum.” This is basically a place where we juniors get to say what I working well and what is not working well within the department.

Unsurprisingly, straight out of the gate was the state of the on-call rota. Basically, there aren’t enough junior doctors to fully staff the rota. This means that we are constantly being asked by medical staffing to do extra shifts. The consultants frequently have to carry the on-call and cardiac arrest bleeps and the hospital trust is having to fork out huge sums of cash to pay for locums (it costs the hospital £3185 to pay for a locum anaesthetic registrar to cover a week of night shifts). The problem is going to be even worse in the new year, when a couple of the more senior SHOs leave to take up registrar position elsewhere in the country.

In the meeting someone asked if there were any plans to employ more juniors and the reply I got was something like this.

“We’re trying. We’ve had a couple of adverts out for a while now, but we only had one applicant and that person pulled out of the interview last week.”

I was flabbergasted. When I applied my job as a Medical SHO, human resources told me they received nearly 900 applications for 2 positions. Now, a couple of years later, they can’t even attract a single applicant? It begs the question – where have all the junior doctors gone?

The answer is obvious isn’t? It’s another legacy of MMC and the MTAS fiasco.

On the face of it, you’d have thought that a shortage of junior doctors was never going to be a problem. In January of this year, there were 33 000 doctors simultaneously applying for only 21 000 jobs and we junior doctors were fretting about unemployment - indeed I came within nine days of the dole queue.

It seems that what’s actually happened is that the suits at the Department of Health and the MMC have seriously overestimated how much shit junior doctors are willing to put up with.

What is now becoming apparent is that thousands of us have “Just Said No.” This has led to a mass exodus of junior doctors from the NHS. I personally know of 13 doctors of a similar experience level to myself that have left the NHS this year. Multiply that across the nation and you’re talking of a huge number of doctors who were simply unwilling to be treated in such an unfair and callous way. I think Dr Rant hit the nail on the head with this post.

The funny thing is, not one of my friends who have left the NHS regrets their decision. Whether they’ve gone to work abroad, or just given up being a doctor completely to do something else, it seems that they’ve found working conditions far better outside the NHS and, as things stand, none of them have any intention of coming back.

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