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Monday, 25 January 2016

The future is not so bright for our junior doctors, according to one Sutton GP

Dr Lavan Baskaran, partner at the James O’Riordan Medical Centre, is concerned about new contract proposals ahead of the planned junior doctors’ strike, which has subsequently been called off.

The GP works at the practice on Stonecot Hill, where he was made a partner in 2013.

“We’re still going to be in the same situation in six to eight months’ time if they continue dragging it out longer and longer” he said.

“It’s always good to avoid striking as patients will suffer, no matter what anyone says.”

Last week junior doctors were out in force to protest against proposed alterations to their contract.

“Patients have come to the picket line in support of the doctors but they, along with the general population, will start getting tired soon enough,” said Dr Baskaran.

Under the proposals junior doctors will have to work more weekends with an increase in their basic pay but this will be linked to a reduced pay rate for hours of overtime.

He said: “I don’t believe the income is appropriate for how hard they work and the worry now is that with that same money or less the government is trying to enforce more hours.”

He added that his biggest concern is over the contract itself and not about more money.

He said: “When I was younger I could do two weekends in a row, which is 20 days straight, but as a human being you would find it quite hard to carry on like that.”

Dr Baskaran clarified the type of protocol that would be in place in hospitals such as St George’s and St Helier during a strike, where trainees would provide emergency care only.

“It’s not to say you wouldn’t be looked after. Although junior doctors do make up a large part of the team, senior doctors would still be available to make decisions,” he said.

“The issue is that the volume of work remains constant but there are less people on the ground which means the team will struggle.”

Unlike the usual system in A&E, where patients are usually seen in chronological order, he explained that during a strike staff have to assess who is the most critical.

He pointed out that a seven-day service as a routine would be very difficult to enforce as doctors already work five days a week with seven-days emergency cover.

“You can have as many doctors as you want all weekend, but if there’s no backing of all the other staff, such as nurses, physiotherapists and pharmacists, you’re going struggle a bit,” he said.

“If you are unwell at the weekend you can still be seen. We’re not in a third world country.”

When addressing his own feelings towards the NHS and current morale he said: “I used to be on 100% and I’m definitely on about 51% now.”

“It’s becoming unmanageable; we’re having to drop days to supplement our income.”

Locum work is a popular alternative option among GPs as it is more financially attractive.

“As a locum I earn more doing those two days than the three days working at the practice,” he said.

“I could double my salary if I just worked as a locum choosing the shifts I prefer, which is far more attractive when you think about family life and mortgages.”

Dr Kevin Chan is the other partner who joined the practice in 2014.

“There’s no way I can manage with my partner GP, we need a third doctor and our income will have to drop to accommodate that third person,” said Dr Baskaran.

There has been a rise in the number of junior doctors emigrating to Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Dr Baskaran explained that Australia has a different system, where weekends are provided appropriately by a care service called Medicare.

“The doctors there don’t burn out and the theory of having a proper break and getting lunch still exists,” he said.

“They don’t have the tick boxes and targets to reach, whereas we have to keep the books in order.”

With tighter controls including CQC inspections, many doctors are feeling a lot more pressure.

“If I don’t finish my morning surgery by 11am to go and sort the finances with the practice manager or if I don’t attend a meeting, we won’t know of the new changes being brought in which will impact our practice,” he said.

The future of general practice is changing with many surgeries already merging to provide a wider range of services which will reduce NHS costs.

“With these mergers we will all become rostered GPs and my patients won’t be able to choose to see me personally,” he added.

“I know three practices in Richmond, Kingston and Merton which have all been shut down as the older doctors are walking away with young doctors not wishing to step into their shoes.”
posted by Radio Jackie News Team @ 11:25 am  

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