Bow Group Press Release on Junior Doctor's Pay

Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Read our latest press release on the Junior Doctor's Strike below:
Tuesday's Doctor's strike could cause hundreds of deaths, will cost millions and is a ploy by the BMA to distract the public and politicians from the real harms to the medical profession, says the Bow Group
"Based on the estimate of 6000 deaths per year for excess weekend deaths and estimate deaths per day of emergency cover only ( which is in effect normal weekend working)  the two immediate strike days would lead to approx 60 deaths per day; 100 deaths in January alone.
With strikes falling on Tuesdays, with the second strike on both Tuesday and Wednesday patients will only be seen only once in four or five days.  For acute medical and surgical beds that is a disaster.  Monday while a working day will be completely lost in planning for the next two days.  Any patient having an operation Monday would have no staff to care for them the next day or two. That's three days worth of elective surgery cancelled.
Clinic appointments will be cancelled, maybe clinics cancelled altogether.  New patients come with a tariff of aprox. £150, followup patients about £75. Lets assume all 75,000 appointments are cancelled. Assume  average tariff is £100. That is £2.25m just over three days that hospitals will lose.  Patients will be rebooked onto next available clinics and this will mean weeks of waiting.  
No consideration has been given to hospitals affected badly by flooding, where clinics and operations have already been cancelled."
- Dr Jonathan Stanley, Junior Doctor & author of Bow Group Paper on Junior Doctors
The Bow Group today calls on the Junior Doctor Committee of the BMA to drop repeated threats of strike action, and accused the BMA of undermining ACAS-brokered negotiations by openly briefing the media.
The author, Dr Jonathan Stanley, an NHS medical doctor, criticises the threat of strikes over a pay dispute when many long standing issues amongst the junior workforce remain unaddressed.

(a) Strikes could cause significant deaths in both the short and long term, at minimum hospitals already under pressure from flooding should not be part of any strike action. 

(b) The Registrar of Deaths should specifically enquire about care given or omitted during the strikes and investigate if omission of care has led to a death, strikes among front-line doctors are exceedingly rare but this means there is little direct evidence to work from.
(c)  The training opportunities of staff grade doctors have been side-lined by the practice of limiting training places. Limiting training places robs opportunities from those able to train, contributes to understaffing by senior medics, and makes the ability to whistle-blow much harder for foundation doctors who are yet to gain a training place but are best placed to report failings of care by their peers.

(d)  Speciality training is an apprenticeship, is temporary and leads to rich rewards for those able to gain a training number - yet there is no ability to claw back money spent when consultants then choose to emigrate.

(e)  Many outstanding  safety issues affecting patients have not been brought to public attention, despite claims by the JDC that the proposed new contract is unsafe. 
Dr Jonathan Stanley, the author of the report, also said:
“There are tens of thousands of doctors the JDC has failed to represent in these negotiations.  The two-tier system where a limited number of trainees are supported by staff grades who are marginalised from training is an embarrassment to the profession.  Serious risks to patient care from poor changeover practices in February and  August are completely preventable and a new contract could make this change possible. 
The taxpayer loses out in many ways through a cap on training places without the means to claw back training money when doctors emigrate.  In effect, a perpetual strike by those leaving, emigration is used as a veiled threat in contract negotiations with shortages of doctors being regularly reported by the media. Given the condition of the economy and long term growth in healthcare demand, supply of both more and better doctors must be the priority.  Better wages, desirable as they are, will have to wait.  It costs £250,000 to train each doctor to F1 level and £400,000 to train each GP.

Claw-backs to recover the cost of training from those not working full time for the NHS would go a long way towards a better pay deal and restore confidence that the profession is taking the long-term future of healthcare in this country seriously.  Introduction of an open market for training places to parallel the postgraduate deanery system would boost doctor numbers in the long term and allow discrete and local contract negotiations that better reflect the local marketplace.

The balloting of members for a mandate to strike, before negotiations were complete, can only be seen to have been made in poor faith by negotiators out of their depth.  Recruiting a locum workforce to cover such strikes, whether or not they happen, will prove expensive and extremely disruptive to elective patient care.  Expressions of regret to such disturbance by doctors will receive diminishing levels of public support as this stand-off continues.”

Bow Group Chairman Ben Harris-Quinney said:

"In pursuing a career in medicine there must be some acceptance that striking is not an appropriate response to any dispute, given the nature of the job.

We have demonstrated that there is a real risk to patient safety and health outcomes, in both the short and long term, and that will be unacceptable to most people in Britain.

The 2015 Conservative Manifesto promised greater action to prevent strikes for "Essential Services", there is nothing more essential than medical care, the government need to consider these Doctor's strikes carefully when drafting new legislation on strike laws."
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