Arguably, as doctors, we are currently experiencing one of the most politically charged and uncertain times in British history.
There are several ongoing high profile political battles combined with increasing pressures on public healthcare services. For NHS staff living this experience, it is terribly overwhelming with many reaching their personal crisis point.
The following questions below have probably circled your mind in the last few weeks – here we attempt to answer them.
Is my job as a doctor secure?
The NHS historically is one of the best organisations to work for with regards to job security and there is currently no indication that Brexit or imposition of a new contract will affect this.
Even if you are employed outside of the NHS, expertise and skillset of a medic is generally highly regarded hence it’s unlikely you will be first at the chopping point. Nevertheless it is important to be mindful that working for Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs), or companies with strong EU ties may have higher risks when it comes to job security. It’s best to check with your employer’s HR if you’re unsure.
Will Brexit / JDC affect my training?
Again, a bit early to tell – following the recent controversy regarding whether the NHS would receive more money if we leave the EU, it’s clear that this is now unlikely.
Reports have indicated that it costs approximately £610k to train a doctor and there is evidence that the general pot for training healthcare professionals across the NHS is dwindling. It is possible that more training costs will be passed onto doctors in the future.
The JDC, if imposed is likely to have a significant impact on most trainees which include more standardised hours, higher base rates, but reduced premia for out of hours worked. There is also likely to be some teething variability on how this is imposed and may take years of practice for further clarity.
I’m an EU graduate – is my job at risk?
There are around 19,000 doctors from the EEA working in the UK which equates to around 8% of doctors licensed to practice here.
Depending on decisions made by the new government leadership, a risk of job loss cannot be ruled out. Jeremy Hunt and Sir Bruce Keogh have sought to reassure healthcare professionals from the EEA and GMC’s Sir Terence Stephenson’s recent email to doctors stated “the vote to leave the EU should not have any impact on the registration status of any doctor already on the register”.
Unfortunately, nobody in this country is currently in a position to offer guarantees.
Should I be considering changing career whilst there is so much uncertainty? What if I become unemployed in the process?
Despite the background panic, essentially it’s business as usual – unless you’re in the financial sector. We would generally advise to continue seeking out opportunities and options – it may even be easier to make that leap now whilst some of your potential competitors are perhaps panicking and sticking to what they (don’t) love for a perceived sense of security.
There are relatively few doctors in the UK who are un-employable either as clinical doctors or for their transferable skills.
Will I still be able to get a job if I leave clinical medicine / leave the country for a bit and return later on?
This is seriously stressing me out – I think I need psychological support and not sure where to get it?
If you have any concerns, please start with your GP. Alternatively for counselling or even CBT, each council has an Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (google IAPT + name of your borough), which you can self refer to for free services.
If you’re based in London, you can seek support via the Practitioner Health Programme, a bespoke mental health service for doctors and dentists. Health for Health Professionals is a similar service in Cardiff run by Prof Debbie Cohen.
Trainees are able to access support through their deanery’s Professional Support Unit.
The BMA Doctors for doctors counselling and advisory service, is open to everyone regardless of membership status.
I really don’t know where to turn at this point – where can I find some inspiration?
We hold a large annual extravaganza & networking event consisting of job opportunities, experiential talks, exhibitors and recruiters with a core focus on health and wellbeing initiatives for doctors. This event is unique to the world! The next event is in Central London on 30th September and 1st October. The doctors that attended last year found it truly inspiring and several have made meaningful changes to their careers as a result.
Another option (also featuring at the event) is to consult with a Career Coach
Uncertainty is the core issue at this point. The reality is however, in times of change there are actually plenty of opportunities.
Doctors and other healthcare professionals who usually come out on top are the ones who embrace this and flexibly plan ahead; always arming themselves with more than one option.