I was very sad to see the ‘walk out’ of junior doctors on Tuesday but this is largely due to the NHS and its inability to make the best of one of its most valuable resources.
I joined the NHS in 1991 as a non-executive director in the newly formed Eastbourne Hospitals NHS Trust – after a 36-year career in banking. Colleagues who joined me ‘from outside’ could not believe the poor NHS management (or lack of it!). I continued to work with the NHS in this role for 10 years and have been working as a volunteer in various roles since then. I saw enough of the treatment of junior doctors to realise they were not valued as they should have been and the situation appears to be the same today.
In 1992 I saw a paper from the NHS bemoaning the fact that it cost £500,000+ to train a doctor but fewer than half of them finally worked for the NHS. This did not surprise me because they were ‘thrown in at the deep end’ – made to work very long hours. Most of the consultants had little sympathy – they had been in the same situation themselves. I would be interested to know the percentage of ‘lost doctors’ today.
By comparison, in banking we looked after our graduate entrants (who were our future senior managers). They were closely followed during their progression – regularly assessed – and from my own experience they felt valued and part of a team.
The same cannot be said of the young people coming in to hospitals – there is a shortage of doctors which makes their new jobs doubly difficult and why is there a shortage of doctors? A vital element of good management is looking after your staff. This is not happening and until more is done to look after the junior doctors at all levels, the problems will continue.
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