Roshan Rupra: 1:1

Enough is enough: Junior doctors ‘not valued correctly’

Pay & Contracts
Tim Tonkin

Core surgical trainee Roshan Rupra tells Tim Tonkin how he and his colleagues feel undervalued by the Government ahead of January’s industrial action ballot

'There are other healthcare professionals that, as doctors, we’re supervising who have less responsibility than ourselves and who are actually getting paid more than us,’ says Norwich core surgical trainee Roshan Rupra.

‘That’s not to say they shouldn’t be getting paid what they are, it’s just that, as doctors, we’re not valued correctly.’

Dr Rupra feels there is little option for junior doctors than to consider industrial action due to the blatant disregard the Government had shown them in their efforts to engage with ministers over pay restoration. A BMA ballot for industrial action opens on 9 January.

He says the failure to adequately remunerate junior doctors was all the more insulting given the enormous sacrifices and contributions made by so many during the height of COVID-19.

I think we’re all feeling very devalued as a profession

Dr Rupra

‘Over the pandemic, we have all worked well above and beyond. Lives were at risk and lives were lost during the pandemic, and what we got for that was a further real-terms pay cut [and] no obvious call from the government saying that our work has been appreciated.

‘The Government sends a very clear message that it does not value doctors in this country. This message is extremely clear based on how money is being spent,’ he adds.

‘We’ve seen billions wasted on test and trace and inadequate PPE [while] doctors are starting their careers on £14 per hour – it’s absolutely ludicrous.’

Dr Rupra says the Government’s attitude to junior doctors and approach to negotiations on pay has left him feeling ‘hugely demoralised’ and feeling ‘expendable’.

Added to the pressures brought on by pay and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, he says other immense service pressures resulting from NHS staffing shortages were a further source of discontent for many doctors in training.

‘We all want to be able to train and be the best that we can be,’ he says. ‘There is fierce, fierce competition for us as doctors because the amount of available training posts is limited by Health Education England.’

Doctors who want to progress don’t have the time or support, he says, explaining: ‘Often we have to dig out of our own pockets, and in our own time, to become better than the other doctor.

‘Mentally that takes an enormous toll. We don’t all have [financial] support from family or friends. I‘m very fortunate that my partner goes the extra mile to help make sure I can get by day-to-day, but not everybody has that.’

On top of pay and the exhausting demands of day-to-day work, Dr Rupra says unacceptable working conditions faced by many juniors feel like a further kick in the teeth.

‘We have to pay for our own parking and I have to get changed in in toilets [as] there are no changing rooms available,’ he says. ‘More often than not in places I’ve worked there are no resting facilities or a doctors’ mess.

When a doctors’ mess is provided, he says his experience is that they ‘have very limited furniture’ are ‘extremely unclean’ and have no bedsheets or pillows.

‘I’ve commonly slept on the floor in the doctors’ office,’ he says. ‘These are completely disgusting working conditions and we’re supposed to be role models for health.’

Dr Rupra is among the doctors reacting to the results of a BMA survey on wellbeing in the latest edition of The Doctor, which you can read here.