Sunday, 18 October 2015

Disgruntled English doctors

Phil Hammond, writing as "M.D.", in his current Private Eye column dissects Conservative promises on the NHS in England.

The Tory conference continued to peddle the delusion that routine NHS services can be safely extended to seven days a week while making eye-watering efficiency savings. The government has a convenient blame figure lined up in Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, who calculated that the NHS shortfall by 2020 would be £30bn [,,,] £22bn of this could be recouped by "working smarter" [...]

In the first year of Stevens' "five-year forward view", no efficiency saving has been made at all. Indeed, the NHS deficit has soared to more than £2bn [and] the performance of the NHS has nose-dived.

Dr Hammond believes that the government sees the solution in effectively cutting doctors' pay. Having shied away from imposing a new contract on consultants, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has "turned his fire" on junior doctors.

The BMA is making bold claims of balloting for industrial action, but a compassionate and ethical workforce is very limited in the protests it can make. Hunt knows that if he toughs it out, he will win, but at what cost? Every junior doctor who moves abroad, or even to Wales or Scotland, is a huge loss to NHS England.

What I want to know is why those disgruntled doctors in the NHS are heading down under rather than make the easier trip across Offa's Dyke. There are declining numbers of GPs in Wales, even in rural areas where the quality of life is said to be second to none in Britain.  If I were Mark Drakeford or Vaughan Gething I would be sounding doctors both sides of the border to find out what could make NHS work in Wales more attractive.

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