Just like GPs working in the NHS no longer like working beyond 6.30pm fours days a week, Junior Doctors working in NHS Hospitals now have an issue about working what they consider unsocial hours. But what are unsocial hours – one NHS definition is quite simply weekends and after 8pm on weekdays.
GPs are still required through the out of hours services to work after 6.30pm until 8am the next morning and at weekends. This nevertheless is costly to the NHS arising from agreements made in 2004 by the Labour government. Now the Conservative government is trying to claw back some common sense and is finding it hard to settle.
The UK has become a nation that works and is ‘open’ seven days a week. Churches are empty on Sundays but shops are full. There has been a dramatic change in the day to day lives of UK residents. Many work on Saturdays and Sundays and take time off during the week. The idea of a five day week Monday to Friday has been replaced by a four day week, or a 36 hours week spread over 7 days not 5. The weekend is no longer unsocial. Patients fall ill at any time day or night and a familiar face providing health care is very welcome not a strange working in another practice or called in to cover in a hospital that is struggling to man its wards.
We need to start to think around the problem of manning the NHS 24 hours 7 days a week. If we do not settle this current ‘strike’ the NHS will continue to fail.