McHale & Co. Solicitors Blog

7 Day NHS - #iminworkjeremy

Jeremy Hunt Secretary of State for Health has recently announced that he intends to force through seven day working for NHS hospital consultants, regardless of whether a contract can be agreed at the negotiating table with the British Medical Association (BMA).

To do this, he would alter consultant contracts to stop them including an "opt-out" from weekend working. To bolster his point, he told the public that there were not many consultants in at the weekends, and also that you were more likely to die if you came to hospital at a weekend.

Health professionals have been protesting at large through social media. There are hundreds of pictures and comments from doctors on Facebook and Twitter displaying the fact that they have been working all weekend. A friend of mine who is a junior doctor posted on Facebook that he had just finished his 7th consecutive 12 hour shift working in A&E which obviously included both weekend days. Protesters are using the hashtag #iminworkjeremy. A large group of people felt Jeremy simply had to know what they were up to, in work late all day, every day such as doctors like my friend. Mr Hunt has not told us how many consultants are in the NHS and, crucially, he hasn't told us how many of those consultants have opted out of weekend working. The consultants who got involved in the Twitter campaign certainly haven't opted out. There may be good reasons for certain consultants opting out and by them being forced to work they may well quit. Take the example of a 70 year old heart surgeon who continues to work, not because he needs the money, but to pass on his vast knowledge to junior doctors. If he is forced to work 7 day weeks he may decide that this is too much and then the up and coming junior doctors miss out.

Jeremy Hunt wants to unilaterally impose contract change as the monopoly employer of hospital consultants, to force seven-day-a-week routine working. What impact could this have?

Key specialities like A&E cannot recruit and as the government try to rush through new doctors, with all grades of hospital doctor expressing huge concerns that this will lead to consultants qualifying without having the chance to spend enough time training as they want to. This may cause dangerous working conditions in the form of excessively long hours. This is when mistakes are likely to happen. Negligence claims are already on the rise and the NHS simply can not afford for them to be.

Adam Horner, medical negligence specialist at McHale and Co who have offices in Altrincham, Heywood, Dublin and London has represented numerous families who have been let down by the NHS. With morale of doctors being at an all time low and by them being forced to work ridiculously excessive hours, Adam is concerned that there is a good chance more mistakes will happen.

Categories: Personal Injury

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