22 Sep

An interesting comment on Yahoo! News’ article on “No pensions action for now: doctors” (


I’m a doctor. Yes, I earn a good wage. But it also costs me over a month’s salary in subscriptions, membership fees and indemnities just to practice. I also went to university for 8 years to enable me to practice, accruing substantial debts in the process. To become a consultant I trained for a further 10 years following qualification, continuing to take exams costing £1000 per sitting until I was 35 years old and moving frequently to take various jobs in different places as demanded by the system. I make life and death decisions for patients on a daily basis and constantly worry about litigation, re-validation (courtesy of the GMC) and annual appraisal (involving assembling each year – and then defending to an assessor – a larger dossier of evidence that I am a good doctor). I work very long hours and for the first ten years of my working life (as a junior doctor) I tolerated miserable working and living conditions and a much lower pay than I could have achieved in another employment setting.

I’m not looking for sympathy, but I am looking to be treated fairly. I entered the job having taken the risks (I might fail the exams), workload (up to 100 hours some weeks) and conditions (I lived in some hospital accommodation that lacked running water) into account; what I thought I would be getting out at the end has now been completely turned on its head.

It might sound like I want to have my cake and eat it, but that’s not true. I think the previous government have done a fantastic job of discrediting doctors and painting practitioners as greedy and overpaid.

The fact is that the guy who does my decorating told me how much he turns over in a year, and it’s as much as I gross annually. My plumber earns more than me. But neither work as many hours as I do, neither spend thousands of pounds on insurance, professional fees and exams with a 30% pass rate and neither have to save peoples’ lives on a daily basis.

If we want good people to save our lives when we get ill, we need to pay them a decent return, where part of that equation is what you get in retirement. Otherwise they might just go and be a plumber. Great for the plumbing industry, a real loss to medicine. In fact, vascular surgery isn’t that different from plumbing, so maybe I’ll retrain – and probably enjoy it more!

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Posted by on 2011-09-22 in Doctors, Government, Money


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