Terminally ill Leeds doctor Kate Granger writes poignant open letter to Jeremy Hunt over junior doctor contract dispute

Dr Kate Granger pictured last year at Leeds St James's Hospital. Picture by James Hardisty.
Dr Kate Granger pictured last year at Leeds St James's Hospital. Picture by James Hardisty.
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A Leeds junior doctor, who has terminal cancer, has written a moving open letter to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt over controversial plans to change the junior doctor contract.

Dr Kate Granger, a junior doctor who has worked in Leeds and Mid Yorkshire, has warned national health chiefs that controversial plans could spark an “exodus” of junior talent and urged the Government not to “destroy” the NHS.

Picture by Peter Byrne/ PA Wire.

Picture by Peter Byrne/ PA Wire.

Kate, 33, has spearheaded the ‘Hello my name is...’ campaign calling for hospital staff to introduce themselves to patients to boost patient experience. She has been battling cancer for four years and has raised £160,000 for good causes.

Junior doctors have been up in arms over plans to introduce new contractual changes by August 2016, which they fear could reduce some people’s pay by up to 30 per cent and reduce safeguards to stop them working longer hours.

A demonstration is set to be attended by thousands of junior doctors in Victoria Gardens, Leeds, on Wednesday October 28 from 7pm.

Yorkshire doctors have told the YEP that if the changes are enforced they fear they could make mistakes on the job through exhaustion, some are considering a change of career and many are prepared to take part in an unprecedented strike.

“Your plan will see a much larger exodus of young talented doctors to the rest of the world.”

Earlier this month a letter from Jeremy Hunt to the British Medical Association (BMA) attempted to reassure medics that the changes were not a cost cutting exercise and were aimed at providing a seven-day NHS.

However Dr Johann Malawana, the BMA’s junior doctor committee chair, said they still need “concrete assurances” over pay, safeguards and what are deemed unsociable hours in a response to the health secretary last week.

KATE GRANGER’S OPEN LETTER

Dear Jeremy,

I write to you as a junior doctor on the verge of becoming a consultant. I write to you as a family member with young nephews and a niece, and parents about to enter older age. I write to you as a patient dying of cancer. Therefore the NHS is a central and vital part of my life.

Three weeks ago I came pretty close to dying from a serious consequence of cancer therapy. It was the junior doctors and nurses, not the consultants who got me better from that episode. The professionalism and compassion from these young people was amazing.

Junior doctors have a huge amount of responsibility, even from day one after graduation. I’ve saved a fair few lives in my career. I’ve also been so tired that I could barely see straight after my seventh consecutive night shift. Protecting our young doctors so they can work, develop and flourish is essential and as Secretary of State is part of your responsibility. Rewarding them properly for their dedication and hard work is only fair…

I was a junior doctor when the MTAS debacle happened which saw many of my friends and colleagues leave the country. Many have since returned, but your plan will see a much larger exodus of young talented doctors to the rest of the world.

Please do not impose your ridiculously unfair contract on us. Sadly I think we are probably only your first target; no doubt you will be coming for the nurses, midwifes, physiotherapists, dieticians, speech therapists, ward clerks next… The NHS is a cornerstone of the United Kingdom. I am proud to work for it and would not want to receive cancer treatment anywhere else. Please do not destroy it for future generations.

An extremely worried and angry doctor and patient,

Kate

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