Junior doctor: Why I'm striking against 'unsafe and unfair' contracts

As hospitals in England prepare for a 24-hour strike, Dr Nikesh Bhatt, a junior doctor in Nottingham, explains why he thinks the walk-out is necessary to protect the NHS from "failure".

After the initial industrial action plans were suspended, with the aim of both parties to re-enter talks, it seemed as if the junior doctors and public voices had been heard.

With talks now failing and the government adamant on the imposition of a contract that is both unsafe and unfair, it is necessary for industrial action to be taken in order to ensure that patient safety and the NHS are protected.

The primary goal for all junior doctors across the nation is to ensure patient safety is maintained and to give any member of the public who have to attend hospital the knowledge that they or a family member are receiving the best care possible.

For this reason, imposing a contract that causes doctors to work longer hours completely contradicts this notion. Tired and over worked doctors are at higher risk of making mistakes and thus reducing patient safety. For example, when I have just worked a stretch of consecutive 12 hour shifts and it comes towards the end of the day, I am physically and mentally exhausted.

There are no set times when a procedure is needed throughout the day, whether it be taking blood samples or providing that initial lifesaving care for a patient that has begun to deteriorate, but each task requires more time and concentration in order to not make mistakes.

Rallies will be held around the country as the strike takes place. Credit: Anthony Devlin / PA Wire/Press Association Images

At the end of the day, if these sanctions are removed and we are made to work over 14-hour shifts, one after the other, then I go from being the doctor that patients have trust in to becoming an inefficient and unsafe member of the healthcare team, which goes against the reason I pursued this career in the first place.

The imposition of this contract will greatly reduce the care we can provide, regardless of all the knowledge and clinical skills we trained so hard to gain. It will cause doctors who have that passion and enthusiasm for the job to lose sight of why they initially pursued the career.

Most importantly it will be piling on more pressure onto an already-pressurised NHS.

Although superficially implicating only doctors, the proposals will in turn impact on all members of the healthcare team pushing our wonderful NHS towards failure.

  • These are the personal views of Dr Nikesh Bhatt and do not necessarily represent ITV News