Letters: Junior doctors’ contract is unfair to women

The following letters appear in the 1st March edition of the Independent

Click to follow
The Independent Online

During a night shift last week, I was involved in  a maternity emergency  that could have resulted in the death of unborn twins. Of 12 people in the operating theatre, all bar one was female. 

This gave me an overwhelming sense of pride juxtaposed with fear of the newly imposed junior doctors’ contract, and  how detrimental it will  be for women.

Both senior clinicians on call that night, on whom the success of this operation depended, are junior doctors who have taken maternity leave, and one works part time. Under the new contract, trainees will no longer see their pay progress yearly. This means women who take time out of training will remain on the same pay scale for many years, which will neither reflect their seniority, nor the experience gained.

Separately the new contract reduces pay for out-of-hours work, disincentivising doctors from pursuing careers in emergency specialties. Combined with the lack of pay progression, this will discourage women in particular from these training posts. As a woman wanting to train in emergency medicine, it is making me think twice about a career that may not be financially viable.

The British Medical Association has announced that it is taking legal action against the Government for failing to comply with the Equality Act. Jeremy Hunt has repeatedly said he believes it is a fair contract. How can it be fair when it discriminates against half the workforce?

Dr Nicola Stoke



Brexit would cost British workers’ jobs

When Nigel Farage came to Derby during the election campaign, he stated: “Firms like Toyota would be better off if we left the EU”. 

Does Mr Farage believe the Japanese and other non-EU companies have set up their manufacturing here for the purely magnanimous purpose of supporting our economy and giving British workers jobs? Of course they haven’t, they came here because of certain advantages we could offer, including being a member of the EU, so that they could compete with European manufacturers on equal terms. 

Already the boss of Nissan and the American owners of Ford have expressed concern at us leaving the EU, and have said that if we do they will have to consider their position in the UK. 

I’ve never liked having these companies here. I would much rather have British-owned ones. But  the reality is that they are here, and if they leave,  and I suspect the new Eastern European members would welcome them  with open arms, the  blow to our economy  would be enormous. 

I have never been a fan of David Cameron, but I fully support him against Brexit. Any advantages of leaving would be heavily outweighed by the disadvantages.

John Hudson



We are now starting to hear about the issues of staying or leaving the EU, but surely the main issue we are voting on is the basic model on which we want to run our society. 

By staying in the EU we are endorsing and buying into the social democratic way of operating a market economy. If we were to leave we would start heading further down a more free-market approach (some would say an American approach) to funding and operating our current collective social and welfare services. 

This is a very big decision and a very big choice.  I hope we all consider  what future we want the next generations to inherit in the UK.

Michael Cross

Richmond, Surrey


Decisive boost for Northern Powerhouse

Your story on the “Northern Poorhouse” (29 February) came, sadly, as no surprise. A decisive act is needed  to shift the balance of  our economy towards  our neglected regions. We have an over-heated economy in London and the South-east, where the cost of housing is fuelled by unfulfilled demand. 

The Houses of Parliament require radical refurbishment costing billions of pounds and London airport expansion will serve only to concentrate our air traffic even further. 

Surely the time has come for the Government to announce that it will move the seat of government away from London to a more central location in  the UK. Cities in northern England and the Midlands should be invited to prepare competing plans to house a new Parliament equipped for the 21st century.

David Preedy

Headley, Surrey


The recent decision to relocate to London the Sheffield office of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is at odds with the Government’s commitment to the Northern Powerhouse. This will concentrate all policy-making in London, with a loss of the highly regarded and experienced team in the North. It also appears that no business case has been made for this move.

It appears that the Government wants a North that delivers wealth to London. To do this it needs to be economically successful but has to be set up with “deals behind closed doors” in Whitehall.

John Greenwood

Loughborough, Leicestershire


Welcome to your new home, faults and all

There has been much publicity over the need for more houses and the location of suitable sites, but little discussion of the quality of the new builds.

I moved into a new house on a large development last June, assuming it would be relatively fault free. It was clear as soon as we moved in that no check on snagging had been made. 

Some faults were plainly visible, such as nails sticking out of a bannister, patio doors which wouldn’t open and gaps round the frame of a side door to a garage. Others quickly showed themselves: hot and cold water feeds connected the wrong way round, an extractor fan linked to the wrong switch and so on. Eight months later, I am still waiting for some faults to be dealt with.

Our case is not an isolated one. Other people on the development have similar problems and soon after any house is occupied, the vans of plumbers, electricians and other trades turn up to deal with faults. An online search for complaints reveals that all the major builders seem to be the same. The building industry reminds me of the British car industry of the 1960s and 1970s when it was common for a new car to have faults. 

However, I note several of the major builders have just announced good six-monthly profits and wonder whether there is any chance of them using some of this to change the industry’s culture to one of getting things right.

Tom Saul

Wantage, Oxfordshire


Let the hedgehogs into your garden

We were saddened, but not surprised, to read that according to a BBC Gardener’s World survey almost half of British people have never seen a hedgehog in their gardens (report, 29 February). The population has declined by a third in urban areas and by half in the countryside since 2000.

A big part of the problem is connectivity. If a hedgehog cannot get into your garden, you are unlikely to see one there! The British Hedgehog Preservation Society and People’s Trust for Endangered Species have joined forces on a project called Hedgehog Street  that is calling for home-owners to ensure that there are 13cm by 13cm gaps in the bottom of boundary fences and walls to enable hedgehogs to move through the landscape. 

We have recruited almost 38,000 “hedgehog champions” to date who help to spread the word. To find out more please visit hedgehogstreet.org

Fay Vass

British Hedgehog Preservation Society, Dhustone, Shropshire


Look how ‘tough’ the Chancellor is

George Osborne’s “decision to step up austerity” has little to do with economics, as demand will be further reduced, and everything to do with his Tory leadership claims, especially as rivals have been hogging the news recently. 

Just as Nicky Morgan’s threat to appoint an American union-baiter as Ofsted chief has nothing to do with education, and Boris Johnson’s decision to run with the Brexit team has no connection with principle, Osborne is making sure the Tory party does not forget who makes the “tough” decisions!

Bernie Evans



What happened to the school play?

One reason for the lack of working-class actors (David Lister, 27 February) is that state schools are focused on exam grades. They do not have the time or resources to run drama groups, inside or outside the curriculum. In the Sixties and Seventies my comprehensive put on plays, with pupils involved backstage as well as acting. 

Keith Eves

Mynydd Isa, Flintshire


Apocalyptic vision

The end of the world is nigh. As it says in the scriptures: “At the last: Trump!”

Eric Evans

Clevedon, Somerset