The junior doctors and NHS management are locked in a struggle over hours, pay and productivity. The doctors complain that they will have to work week-ends and longer hours for less money. The NHS seeks to assure that the proposals do not include wage cuts or unreasonable hours.
At the heart of the row is the government’s wish to see better care at week-ends. People who fall ill or injure themselves at week-ends need good quality care there and then. The figures show that cover is not so good at week-ends, and the outcomes from treatment and surgery are not so good as a result. The aim of the reforms is to have a better balance of medical talent available throughout the week, as well as making sure there are enough doctors and nurses. The government points out it has recruited more over the last five years, and will doubtless appoint more over the next five. The NHS budget continues to grow.
Mr Hunt is a patient and thoughtful Secretary of State driven by a wish to improve the NHS and to reinforce its best instincts and professional conducts.He has introduced a system of honest reporting in the NHS, arguing that air safety improved when pilots and crew had to report every incident or near miss so the airline could learn from it and manage the error out of future flights or engineering. The same is a necessary part of delivering first class health care. When people make mistakes they need to be reported, and improvements made to protocols, procedures and equipment.