The real contract

My actual “contract” pays me for 24 hours/week with a 50% unsocial hours supplement.  At least, I think it does. I didn’t see a contract for the first few years that I was working.  When I got a mortgage, I had to download the national terms of service from the internet so that the bank could work out what my contract actually meant.  I didn’t know; most of my colleagues didn’t know; it wasn’t important.

It wasn’t important because we knew that it wasn’t the real contract; it wasn’t the real agreement between patients, doctors, and the NHS.  This paper contract contained things like study leave; training time; advance notice of rotas…. It wasn’t real.  Banding was a kind of compensation for that.

The real contract is unspoken; undefined; yet ingrained into our culture as professionals.

This is our contract

We will not work by the hour – because things don’t start and finish when our shifts finish

We will squeeze in our training around providing a service to the NHS – because the patient in front of you comes first

We will stay late to have a chat and talk to relatives – because families need to know what’s going on

We will jump through the educational hoops; book supervision meetings after night shifts; spend weekends filling in eportfolios; come in on our annual leave to get assessments done – because there isn’t the time to do this in our working day

We will do the audits and re-write protocols and guidelines in our own time – because that isn’t what matters to the patient today, but it makes a difference to the NHS this year or the next.

We will spend thousands of pounds of our own money, every year, on exams and training courses in our own time – because that doesn’t happen in the working day, and because we need to keep getting better to deliver safe care.

We will miss birthdays & Christmas & funerals & weddings, even if we’ve booked them off in advance, because the leave wasn’t approved or the request went unacknowledged, or just because we know it’s busy – because the service still needs to run and patients still need to be cared for.

We will watch our colleagues miss their child’s first steps – because somebody else’s child is sick.

This isn’t an hourly contract.  This is what we signed up for. 

Please. Don’t lose sight of that.


One thought on “The real contract

  1. Pingback: I am worth more than (just) my salary | PaediAcademiatrician

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