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Senior Docs Turn Heat on Hunt

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Jeremy Hunt

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is in trouble as over 400 A & E consultants join the revolt of junior medics seeking better pay and working conditions….reports Asian Lite News

Jeremy Hunt
Jeremy Hunt

In a letter sent to Daily Mail, the senior consultants said the Hunt reforms will  trigger a staffing crisis in A&E because of restrictions on lucrative overtime.

The consultants predict waiting times will get longer, weekend care will deteriorate and casualty departments will be forced to close. Thirty thousand junior doctors will begin voting tomorrow on whether to strike.

Meanwhile, the Health Secretary has written to 50,000 junior doctors in England outlining plans he says would lead to basic pay increasing by 11%. The British Medical Association said it had not seen the proposals. It is preparing to send ballot papers out on Thursday ahead of possible industrial action in a fraught pay dispute.

Mr Hunt says just 1% of NHS junior doctors would lose out under his plans.

The letter has been signed by 408 senior A&E doctors of whom 371 are consultants, almost a quarter of the 1,500 in England. The signatories to the letter include some of the country’s most eminent emergency consultants. Among them are Simon Eccles, clinical director for emergency care at NHS England and Mike Clancy, of Southampton Hospital and former president of the College of Emergency Medicine.

The letter warns that the new contract is ‘unsafe for patients and unfair for doctors’. ‘We fear greatly for the well-being of our patients and staff, and our ability as a specialty to provide excellent emergency medical care to the public,’ it says.

The numbers of patients turning up in casualty departments has risen by 50 per cent over the past ten years, partly because they are unable to get an appointment with a GP. But the crisis is made worse because A&E units are understaffed and struggle to recruit doctors.

More than half of junior doctors who have opted to specialise in emergency medicine quit before finishing the six-year training to pursue another career or move overseas. Around 600 have emigrated in the past five years and 500 UK-trained A&E doctors are working in Australia.

There are 59,000 junior doctors in England but the term is misleading as it refers to any medic progressing up the career ladder to become a consultant. They earn an average of £40,000 but salaries range from £22,000 to £59,000 depending on their training.

Out-of-hours rates vary and some get a 50 per cent top-up even if they need to be on call from home only one weekend in four.

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