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.