Dr Jayaram, a consultant paediatrician and Channel 4 medical expert, has spoken out as junior doctors across England, including the Countess, prepare to strike for the 5th time next week.
Until now strikers have provided emergency cover but in an escalation of the dispute the next action planned from 8am to 5pm on Tuesday and Wednesday (April 26-27) will see a full walk-out in a row over new contracts.
Health secretary wants 'seven-day NHS'
Junior doctors claim it will lead to stressed out doctors working longer hours, potentially putting patients’ lives at risk and jeopardising their own health, and all for a reduced pay packet.
Dr Jayaram told The Chronicle his article on the ‘Dr Ravi Jayaram’ Facebook page was written out of a sense of frustration the real issues were not being aired.
He said: “I’m trying to give the bigger picture that has not been reported in the mainstream media. It’s been shared 14,000 times, which is just ridiculous!”
In the piece, the doctor wrote: “So what is all the fuss about? Well it is about being able to be safe. When I was a JD, I used to work ridiculous hours.”
He added: “Fortunately my generation of juniors was amongst the last to have to do that and things slowly changed.“
But Dr Jayaram is not alone in fearing the new contracts will turn back the clock.
Junior doctors are not against providing a full emergency and routine service seven days a week, if it is properly staffed and resourced.
But assuming this is the scenario, because Dr Jayaram points out ‘nobody is really sure’, then there is a worry it will simply mean spreading the existing workforce more thinly across the week.
Dr Jayaram wrote: “A great analogy I heard was to imagine that you have a 10-inch pizza cut into five slices. You decide that five slices isn’t going to fill you up so your mum cuts the same pizza into seven slices and tells you that you’ll be full with that. But she won’t get you a bigger pizza.
“So same number of junior doctors spread more thinly is going to reduce cover on weekdays as compared to now. And weekdays are when not only emergency work but also routine planned work that also needs input from junior doctors takes place so this will have a detrimental effect on waiting lists for clinics and operations as well.”
NHS West Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group is asking patients to avoid A & E during strike days unless it is a genuine emergency as GPs, pharmacies, the NHS 111 telephone service or the NHS Choices website may be able to help.
Dr Jayaram reassures people that ‘bad things are not going to happen’ next week. Routine operations would be cancelled which was ‘inconvenient’, but he told The Chronicle: “What would normally be covered by junior doctors at the front-line in doing clinics and meetings is going to be done by consultants so when you turn up at hospital the first doctor you see will actually have at least eight or nine years’ experience behind them.”
And if there was a major incident such as a pile-up on the M56, a fire or a terrorist attack then junior doctors would leave the picket line and go back into work.