In light of recent media, Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has given NHS doctors an ultimatum: agree to work weekends within six weeks, or a seven-day contract and cuts to overtime pay will be imposed from April 2017, he said in a speech at the King’s Fund in London. This poses the question on what the future holds for NHS doctors. We asked some of our Derma Medical trainees to voice their frustrations on the current situation of the NHS and why they have decided to leave/pursue alternative options such as private aesthetic practice.
Here were the 5 reasons reported:
1) Lack of Autonomy and respect:
Many argue that the status of a doctor is ‘not what it once was’ with more demands and targets being imposed, significant pressures and forced decisions from non-clinical leads. Even some of the consultants that have trained with us at Derma Medical report an increasing inability to make clinical decisions without discussing with managers first, eliminating their clinical job role. At a time of political unrest for doctors, these factors have been highlighted by Health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s threat to NHS doctors forcing them to work harder or face pay cuts. For some of our delegates this was highlighted as the number 1 factor contributing to their job dissatisfaction.
2) Poor Quality of Life
This was also ranked up there. Although many doctors enjoy their job, many feel they have no work/life balance or flexibility. It’s no great secret that doctors are some of the hardest working professionals in the UK and often unappreciated for it. Our delegates report a dislike for their unsociable hours, lack of flexibility and almost endless training programmes where many report that they feel they are living to work. The rota-based shift work nature of many NHS doctors often hinders time spent with friends and family, and often makes it difficult to find time to explore other areas of interest. One of our delegates went on to describe doctors as ‘tenants to the NHS’.
3) Poor pay for hours worked
There is a common myth that doctors are rich. To those that work (or have worked) in the NHS, we all know this is very far from the truth. The public and often the media regard doctors as some of the wealthiest members of society, but the harsh reality is that many doctors are actually in debt for many years…and moreover, they have large medical school debts, course fees and mandatory exams to add to their expense column. Although some doctors are well-off it often takes many years of training to reach a position of financial comfort. Whilst many doctors are not in medicine to make plenty of money, our delegates feel that they deserve better pay and recognition for their efforts.
4) Lack of career progression
This option does not apply to all doctors. Some in-fact are already in established training programmes hence why it was ranked as reason number 4. Today many doctors are forced to decide on their future career paths quite early, often taking an F3 year to explore options. This can often be frustrating for those who still remain unsure or are at a disadvantage due to time out of training. For senior doctors stuck in non-progressive trust grade or associate jobs, this can be equally frustrating. We often hear from our delegates that get caught in a bottle-neck during their training, where there are more applicants than positions available. This appears to be more common for competitive surgical jobs or those that offer a more family-friendly lifestyle. As a result many trainees venture into any possible career choice available, not necessarily being one they wanted. Executive managerial changes to training and NHS funding cuts have also meant that certain run-through programmes will become part of general medical training (aka medical registrar rota) by 2020. Many secondary care services such as dermatology and ENT are also being shifted into primary care as a result, cutting these posts even more. This has put off many delegates who are now beginning to explore alternative routes.
5) Lack of time for your patients
NHS targets, deadlines, criteria and expectations on doctors is at an all time high. Many of the hospital doctors that we train report constantly being under pressure by bed managers to ‘get patient’s out of hospital asap’. Often and unfortunately these decisions outweigh clinical decisions sometimes lead to unsafe discharges and hence high readmission rates. Many NHS services are exhausted with these pressures and demands and doctors (forced to do rapid discharge summaries at weekend ward cover) are often blamed. Gone are the days where time was allowed to be dedicated to patient care which has led to frustrations at both ends- the public and the service provider. Many delegates often liken their hospital environment to be much like a ‘conveyor belt of people’.
If you are a doctor and feel the above applies to you or you feel frustrated in your current job role and want to explore other options, check out our Botox® and Dermal Fillers training courses.