Intended for healthcare professionals


Junior doctors: the moment of decision

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: (Published 02 October 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:868

Think hard and be bold

  1. Richard Smith, editor
  1. BMJ

    News p 869

    Britain's junior doctors have huge public and professional support in their struggle to improve the hours they work, their conditions, and their pay. The public is grateful to them for always being there, no matter whether it is the dead of night or Christmas Day; even the tabloid newspapers argue their case. The other parts of the profession, including the consultants and the general practitioners, gave unanimous support to the juniors for their battle at the BMA's annual meeting. Now after a tough summer of negotiation the junior doctors face a difficult decision. Should they accept an offer that is less than they demanded but which some regard as excellent? Or should they test their support and try for more, running the risk that they will lose what they've gained?

    Junior doctors are on the front line of a National Health Service under enormous pressure. They are the ones who must comfort and treat patients in packed accident and emergency departments, overflowing admission wards, full intensive care units, and beds in the day rooms of wards. They, not politicians, are the ones who must explain to patients and their families the …

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