Junior doctor from St Albans says she will ‘leave the county’ if changes to contracts are implemented

Junior doctor, Emilie Hoogenboom, says she may leave the country if NHS contract proposals go ahead.

Junior doctor, Emilie Hoogenboom, says she may leave the country if NHS contract proposals go ahead. - Credit: Archant

A junior doctor and mum-of-three from St Albans says she is prepared to leave the country and move back to Switzerland if the proposed changes to NHS junior doctor contracts go ahead.

Emilie Hoogenboom, 39, said that the government proposals - which include cutting the number of hours deemed ‘unsociable’, meaning lower pay in many cases - have caused morale among junior doctors to plummet.

She said: “The mood is so low and we’re all very worried. The main sentiment is of worry and anger. The first worry is about the contract - the changes will mean a loss of the safeguards in terms of numbers of hours that doctors are allowed to work.

“With the current contract, a junior doctor is not allowed to work more than 72 hours per week. But the proposals will mean that the employer has no restrictions in dictating the hours.”

The government says the new deal will freshen up junior doctor contracts, which were introduced in the 1990s and have been described as unfair and outdated.

Under the old contracts, doctors received a higher rate of pay outside of ‘social hours’, classified as 7am to 7pm, Monday to Friday. But under the new contracts, ‘sociable’ hours would be changed and extended to 10pm and include Saturdays.

Emilie, who moved to St Albans from Switzerland eight years ago, says she loves her job and doesn’t “do it for financial reason, but for philanthropic ones”. She maintains she just wants to be able to get on.

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Thousands of junior doctors protested against the proposals in London last week, with many arguing that were the proposed changes to come into effect, it would ultimately lead to a reduced quality of service.

Emilie, who works at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, said: “We are really worried, because it might mean that you have overworked doctors that are so tired that it is not safe for the patients in the end - in the medical community, that is concern number one.”

She also recounted an incident in which she almost fell asleep at the wheel after three 13-hour night shifts in a row, and said that the new contracts would work junior doctors harder and drive many away from the NHS.