Colin Randall writes: Salut! Sunderland is not a political site. Its contributors and readers have their views on all sorts of issues beyond football and no attempt is made to block those that pass ordinary tests of decency and legality. Some will support the junior doctors wholeheartedly in their dispute with the Government, others may consider their stance wrong-headed.
But the fact is their members at the Sunderland Royal are setting up a stall outside the Stadium of Light (beside A Love Supreme’s office) before the Arsenal match on Sunday so that fans can stop and raise any questions they wish. I happen to support the doctors’ cause. My view is unimportant but I am happy to allow space to one of them, Paula Bradley*, to explain the background. If Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, sets up his own stall before the Chelsea or Everton games to explain his position, he’s welcome to write about it, too, but I won’t be holding my breath …
Junior doctors are trying to stop the Government forcing in a contract that we think is unsafe and unfair. I am 40 and have been a junior doctor for 10 years.
Ahead of the strike at the end of April we are making some efforts to meet the public and answer any questions that they might have.
You and your family will see doctors like me when you go to A&E, when you go and see a GP or when you attend a clinic appointment. Or you might speak to one of us about your relatives who are admitted to a hospital ward.
We are in training to become the consultants and GPs of the future. We work on all seven days of the week, weekends and nights. This is all part of our present contract.
We get paid a basic salary and on top of that we get a top-up, depending on how much we work weekends and nights. We do not do overtime and cannot claim overtime, but we often stay late to make sure patients are safe, jobs are done.
If the extra time that we work becomes too much, then hospitals are fine. The Government want to take this away, which we think will make it easier for the hospitals to make doctors work longer hours.
We did not ask for a pay rise and a pay rise is not what this contract gives us. Hospitals are under great pressure and this new contract will increase that pressure spreading an already stretched workforce even thinner.
* Paula on herself: I can’t claim to be a football fan. I went to medical school in Newcastle and have been living and working in the North East for most of the last 15 years. I did leave for a while but missed both the people and the place.
I know how important football is to the people of Tyne and Wear. I would say that my loose football loyalty is to Liverpool as that’s where my parents got off the boat from Ireland when I was two and where we lived for five years. My dad is a big Brian Clough fan and I did go to many Forest matches in the 80s and 90s when I was a teenager in Nottingham so I guess I have a link to Sunderland AFC!