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Junior doctor: 'I fear for patient safety'

Junior doctors marched on Downing Street tonight in protest over contracts they say will force them to work longer hours and for less pay.

Here one junior doctor writes for ITV News on how the new contracts will impact their profession.

NHS workers march on Downing Street. Credit: ITV News

I love the NHS, and believe it is one of the things that makes Britain great.

I am proud to work in a system where you can receive world-class care, regardless of who you are.

However, I along with very many of my colleagues, feel that we are working hard for an organisation that is slowly and deliberately being allowed to fail.

We are working incredibly hard, only to be told that we are lacking vocation by a minister who seemingly does not want the NHS to succeed.

The current junior doctor’s contract farrago could be the final nail in the coffin.

The new contracts could put patients at risk as there is no restriction on hours doctors can work. Credit: ITV News

A contract in line with the government’s current offer will profoundly affect everyone that uses the NHS, including the doctors that work in it.

The change means safeguards to ensure doctors do not work dangerously long hours have also been removed.

It would also treat evenings and Saturdays as normal working hours, meaning they won’t attract any extra pay.

Pay protection for those who take time out of medicine to take part in life-saving research will also be removed.

Whilst our basic pay will be slightly increased, out of hours pay will be slashed, and could result in a pay cut of up to 40% for some doctors.

These changes will not just affect a few doctors fresh out of medical school but everyone in training below consultant level. That’s over 50,000 people.

The average debt of those studying medicine is now £90,000. Credit: ITV News

The implications of this on patient safety are frightening.

There will be no disincentive to stop hospitals from overworking doctors.

It is likely that we will be forced to work increasingly antisocial hours, along with more hours per week.

Quality of care will suffer, as research has already shown that tired doctors are more likely to make potentially catastrophic mistakes.

My working hours already impact significantly on my personal life, these new changes will make it even worse.

Personally, the prospect of a pay cut is also extremely worrying.

I do not want to work longer hours for less pay in a system that will put patients at risk.

Many doctors agree, and this pay cut will deepen the recruitment and retention crisis the NHS is facing - especially when you consider that someone studying medicine now will leave with a debt of £90,000.

A record numbers of doctors have already applied for certification to work abroad since these changes were proposed.

The NHS is the second cheapest healthcare system in the developed world, and ranks first for quality, access and efficiency.

To seek to impose this contract in this environment seems insulting to me as a junior doctor, and also disrespectful towards an excellent - though far from perfect - institution.

I sacrifice a lot for the system, but this time the government may just be asking too much.

These views do not necessarily reflect those of ITV News.