NHS changes ‘will affect patients’ says South Tyneside doctor

Doctor Daniel Cummings unhappy with proposed changes to junior doctors roles which they argue will impact on patients.
Doctor Daniel Cummings unhappy with proposed changes to junior doctors roles which they argue will impact on patients.

A junior doctor from South Tyneside says patients’ safety could be compromised if controversial changes to NHS workers’ contracts go ahead.

The Government is proposing that, from August next year, junior doctors’ terms and conditions will be changed, with critics arguing those affected will have to work longer, later shifts for less pay.

The worry is that these contract changes will lead to doctors becoming too tired to work safely, we will make more mistakes and that this will put patient safety at risk.

Dr Daniel Cummings

Tomorrow, thousands of junior doctors are set to march through Newcastle in protest at the plans including Dr Daniel Cummings, who has been working at South Tyneside District Hospital since August.

He said: “Many of us are concerned that this will lead to a return to dangerous working patterns, increasing exhaustion and burnout amongst an already overstretched workforce.

“Doctors make important, potentially life-saving decisions on a daily basis and have to be able to think and act quickly when patients become severely unwell.

“The worry is that these contract changes will lead to doctors becoming too tired to work safely, we will make more mistakes and that 
this will put patient safety at risk.

“Those doctors most affected by these contract changes have estimated that with the changes to the banding system they could face up to a 40% pay cut in addition to being subjected to working patterns that are dangerous for doctors and patients alike.”

Dr Cummings, 29, who is from Sheffield, says he and colleagues are hoping that those in power will reconsider.

“We are hoping that we can raise the public awareness of these changes and the damage that they could do,” he added.

“They won’t just affect doctors in the immediate sense; there is a real risk to patient safety.

“Many doctors are concerned that this contract will make working in medicine in the UK unsustainable, leading to decreased staffing levels, with those who continue to work here being overworked and too exhausted to make good and safe decisions.”