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What are Nottingham’s junior doctors saying about strike action?

A junior doctor on the picket line explained the sadness of seeing patients come to potential harm due to staff shortages during a second day of strike action.

Industrial action is taking place across England over a 96-hour period between 6.59 am on 11 April and 6.59 am on 15 April.

Members of the British Medical Association (BMA) and Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) are taking part in the strikes with picket lines at the Queen’s Medical Centre and City Hospital in Nottingham.

The BMA is asking for a full pay restoration back to 2008/9 levels, but health secretary Steve Barclay said a potential 35 per cent pay increase was “unreasonable”.

Helen Nightingale, a paediatric emergency registrar, held a placard outside the QMC on April 12 reading: “I resuscitate babies – what’s that worth?”

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Ms Nightingale, who has been a junior doctor for nine years said: “On a day-to-day basis I look after sick, dangerously ill children.

“When the message we’re receiving from the Government is that they think our pay demands are outrageous, you have to remind them you’re doing something pretty important.

WhatsApp Image 2023 04 12 at 13.26.30
Helen Nightingale on the picket line

“We are shorter and shorter staffed and that is something that worries me. It has reduced how well I can care for people.

“It’s a gradual erosion, you see fewer staff around and the pressure of what you need to do in a shift increases.

“The more people there are, the easier it is for things to get missed and for bad things to happen and I see that increasingly.

“There is a nature of trauma to this job, we do always have to see things that are hard to see.

“But there is a particular sadness to seeing harm or danger to people that could’ve been avoided if there were more staff, more resources and if people were less exhausted.”

Jamshid Khan, a 34-year-old junior doctor at QMC, said £14 an hour was “not enough for a doctor”.

He added: “We see more and more doctors signing up to go to Australia and New Zealand. I’m considering it because things aren’t getting any better.

WhatsApp Image 2023 04 12 at 13.26.35
Junior doctor Jamshid Khan

“Every single winter we think it can’t get worse than the last, and then it does. It’s the same story every year.

“This winter was particularly bad. My only hope is that the Government take the seriously.”

Melissa Ryan, a paediatric trainee and picket line supervisor, added: “We are all disappointed that we are back here again but we are here for the long haul.

“It’s the weirdest sensation standing outside a place where you should be working.

“We’re tired of short staffing and the working conditions.

“Every day you have to spread yourself thinner and thinner and you work harder and longer hours.

“I imagine that we could find ourselves striking again. Of course, we would call it off tomorrow if Mr Barclay actually came to the table.”

Junior doctors make up around 50 per cent of the Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) NHS Trust medical workforce and usually around 700 staff would be working on a given day.

Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) NHS Trust, which runs the QMC and City Hospital, said in a statement on the website that patient safety is the trust’s “key focus”.

NUH added: “Due to the expected reduction in staff across our hospitals, appointments will be affected.

“We will contact you if your appointment or procedure needs to be changed or rescheduled due to the strike action.

“If we have not contacted you, please attend as planned.”

The BMA says that junior doctors have experienced a cut of more than 25 per cent since 2008/09, and wants measures in place to prevent any future declines against the cost of living and inflation.

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: “It is extremely disappointing the BMA has called strike action for four consecutive days.

“Not only will the walkouts risk patient safety, but they have also been timed to maximise disruption after the Easter break.

•  Junior Doctors Strike: Picket line at QMC as four-day action begins

“I hoped to begin formal pay negotiations with the BMA last month but its demand for a 35 per cent pay rise is unreasonable – it would result in some junior doctors receiving a pay rise of over £20,000.

“If the BMA is willing to move significantly from this position and cancel strikes we can resume confidential talks and find a way forward, as we have done with other unions.”

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