Letter: NHS rationing

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The Independent Culture
Sir: What a fallacy to suggest that young doctors work up to 110 hours a week just to earn pounds 4 or pounds 5 per hour ("New pay deal offered to junior doctors", 18 August). They work these hours because they have to. With almost permanent staff shortages while managers try to cut costs, there is no option for doctors on call but to work the hours, or abandon the patients.

Frank Dobson's suggestion of a "professional" rate of pay will probably mean a small annual increase in salary, and no specified hours. The position will not improve until overtime rates are paid in line with those of the rest of the working population (ie more than the basic rate), and hospital managers realise that two doctors working 40 hours each are cheaper than one doctor working 80 hours.

MARY COSGROVE

Corsham, Wiltshire

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