‘Pathetic and dangerous’ - Norfolk junior doctors hit out at contracts designed to improve patient safety
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015
New contracts drawn up by the government for junior doctors have been slammed by medics in Norfolk.
The dispute over junior doctors' pay has been rumbling since September, when the government announced plans to restrict the number of unsocial hours which brings in extra pay.
It believes its new proposal will improve patient safety.
But Dr James Rowson and Dr Ben Kirk, who work at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and James Paget University Hospital respectively, have hit out at the plans, branding them 'pathetic' and 'dangerous'.
Writing in the EDP today, health minister Ben Gummer, said: 'The current junior doctors' contract incentivises long hours by rewarding those that work above and beyond the legal limit.
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'The new contract will be based on no junior being required to work more than an average of 48 hours per week, with tougher limits on unsafe hours - including a new maximum working week of 72 hours, down from 91.
'This will help to reduce burnout and improve patient safety.'
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But Dr Rowson said junior doctors are not able to choose to work extra hours for more money, and feared hospitals would make junior doctors work more hours.
'We don't get a choice in the hours we work', he said.
He added: 'In principle I agree with working an average of 48 hours per week, but I don't think that will be enforced by hospitals because the government are proposing to remove the financial penalties for making junior doctors work more hours.'
Dr Kirk said: 'There still remains no solid safeguards preventing junior doctors being exploited through dangerously long shifts. 'Despite assurances of safe working hours I remain abjectly sceptical.'
Mr Gummer, who is also MP for Ipswich, said: 'We will remove the complex banding payments system and replace it by paying doctors for hours worked.
'There will be around an 11pc increase to junior doctors' basic pay - with proportionately higher pay for unsocial hours.'
However Dr Kirk said the 11pc increase would not count as a pay rise once one calculates doctors' loss of extra pay for working unsocial hours.
Both doctors said they would vote in favour of industrial action, with the British Medical Association balloting members from today.