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Let’s Talk about…. Money

It’s uncouth to talk about money (so Brits believe) but like all stereotyping there is a grain of truth to it. Yet unless you are a ‘Trustifarian’ (a position achieved through an ancestor being extremely relaxed about money) earning a living is a fundamental of life.  Work hopefully is more fulfilling than simply a means to an end but that is not a given.

The medical profession is the very definition of a vocational career therefore our society expects our doctors to be there come-what may. So I was a little shocked when the first junior doctor strike in 40 years happened with potentially more action on the way.  The perception of the medical profession is rightly one of professional people with a strong sense of commitment to their vocation and helping people.  Like the rest of us they have to earn a living and I was a little surprised at how much a junior doctor is paid, bearing in mind the importance of the role to society and the fact that it not a career just anyone can do.  The Government must be embarrassed to have this strike on their hands with public opinion for the time-being supporting the junior doctors.  This is nicely summarised by a post on the blogging site ukpollingreport.

In a very British way, an argument about money is obscured by lip service paid to patient safety, illustrated beautifully by an interviewee who suggested that junior doctors could vote with their feet and work in Australia; ironic as the Australian health service is privately funded to a greater extent than our own health system. Marketisation is of course a ‘bone of contention’.  In our role in the ATE insurance market we see cases on a daily basis where the NHS has made errors with life changing consequences through clinical-negligence.  Organisations such as Patients Association and AvMA news have for years sought to highlight patient concerns and issues.  To my mind the NHS needs to be reformed so that we can continue to be able to help the growing numbers of people who need ever more expensive treatment.

Us patients do need help at funny times of the day and at weekends, so a system that truly operates on a 24/7 basis is desirable. So out of the magician’s hat the Health Department needs to do more with less, reform the system and probably pay junior doctors fairly (more). Also, for a country that needs more health professionals there seems to be too slow an expansion of University places, it’s cheaper to recruit from overseas.   Good luck Mr Hunt and the BMA but don’t forget us the patients!