Saturday, 5 January 2008

From Philip Smith

This piece has been written by Dr Philip Smith, a junior doctor in London:

I watched with admiration at the professionalism and dedication of the doctors, nurses and other health professionals at the Royal Marsden Hospital this week. The way they coped with the unbelievable chaos surrounding them, gives the public at large a more accurate portrayal of the work doctors and nurses do within the NHS rather than the one often relayed. The selfless and dedicated manner in which they ensured that some of the most vulnerable people in society where protected and guided to safety shows the real face of the heart of the NHS – the heart of the doctors and nurses on the ‘shop floor’.

I also watched with interest at the entirely appropriate visit of Mr Brown and Mr Johnston to the Brompton Hospital to meet the patients, and workers involved in the evacuation from the Royal Marsden Hospital. As they shook the hand of the junior doctors, I wondered if they glanced into the eyes of the professionals in front of them. I doubt they will have any idea about how many of the doctors in front of them had agonised over the possibility of unemployment or the lack of training places in the previous year. The same doctors that now are rightly being hailed for their professionalism.

Indeed, the dark cloud of the 2007 medical recruitment fiasco has never really shifted, even though it has not been in the news headlines – people leaving medicine for good, emigrating to the southern hemisphere in droves, doctors displaced across the country…. the list goes on and on. You can’t blame the overseas doctors for this one – this is years and years of poor workforce planning by managers and politicians who I guarantee will be paid way in excess of any junior doctor or nurse.

The recruitment process has changed slightly this year, and yes, the multimillion-pound computer system is gaining dust somewhere, but again the numbers just don’t add up. A ratio of at least 3 doctors to every post means that the already despondent profession will have its morale burnt to a cinder.

Enough to set the fires burning in the hearts and minds of junior doctors…I think so. I have a strange feeling of déjà vu.


Dr Philip Smith
Junior doctor

Sent to anyone that will listen

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