NHS Poor pay and conditions driving doctors to quit

Many doctors quit the NHS as a result of poor pay, according to a report published today. One quarter of the qualified doctors who were questioned said pay was a problem.

Over 350 doctors in the north-west, who were on temporary breaks or had left the NHS permanently, responded to anonymous questionnaires which asked why they had left, if they intended to return and whether part-time work would encourage them to return.

The research, Wasted Doctors, funded by the North West Regional Task Force for Junior Doctors' Hours, will be discussed at the annual British Medical Association meeting next week.

It points out that hourly pay for all junior doctors is very low, because an average 72-hour-week hospital job includes 32 hours of compulsory overtime, paid at half the hourly rate.

For a first-year junior doctor, this is pounds 3 an hour, less than the level at which the Government has proposed to fix the new national minimum wage.

One doctor explained his reason for leaving the NHS, saying: "I had never felt that medicine was the only career I could follow, but would have stuck with it if the pay reflected the professional status and the hours were more human."