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Cheap, undervalued, expendable: junior doctors in 2017?

BMJ 2017; 358 doi: (Published 31 July 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;358:j3651
  1. Rachel Clarke, specialty doctor in palliative medicine
  1. Oxford
  1. rtsclarke{at}

NHS trusts are still treating junior doctors as if they are expendable at a time when morale should be a priority

A family friend isn’t happy. Fresh from graduation—and only days from beginning his first proper job—Sam has yet to see a contract, a rota, or even basic information about what he can expect to be paid. And no, he isn’t embarking on a career as an Uber driver, Deliveroo courier, or some other entrant into Britain’s burgeoning gig economy. Sam is a final year medical student. Five A levels, a degree in medicine, and another in science under his belt: he is the kind of graduate big firms would leap at. But the employer failing him so dismally—before he’s even started—is Britain’s biggest, the NHS.

Sam’s experience is far from unique. As is depressingly usual for this time of year, junior doctors and medical students have been peppering …

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