#JuniorDoctors We Don’t Pay Doctors for Saving Lives

If you’ve been following the wonderful Sam Bowman on Twitter recently you will have noticed his rather amusing ‘Trolling Campaign’ against the #JuniorDoctors pay dispute. Or as some of us might describe it, his attempt to talk sense to them.

Sam’s intelligent, logical views can be summed up in a nice article he wrote for the International Business Times. Do go read it

However what I find interesting are the responses to Sam’s views which are often very emotional. A good example of this is provided in one of the Facebook comments in response to Sam’s recent post. Note I am ‘mr software engineer’…

Than scale the wages to keep the juniors interested long enough to stay in before quiting or biting out. Ok mr software engineer, when was the last time you saved a life? I don’t hold with the argument that they need to stick into it till they are earning well. Peoples lives are literally in there hands, what we do is inconsequential in comparison..Sam you talk a lot, and software engineer dude you write code well I guess but c’mon they save lives! You can’t put a price on that!

You can see in this comment that saving lives has been conflated with a doctor’s pay. That is we place an infinite value on our own lives thus doctors deserve almost infinite levels of pay and respect because they help safeguard and save these objects of infinite value…

The issue is though we don’t pay doctors good wages because they save lives — far from it. And how do we know this? Well because there are plenty of professions that also save lives but the individuals involved don’t get paid anywhere near as much. So there must be another factor that explains doctors pay.

There are many examples, and a very good one is a Fireman. This is a very dangerous job that results in saving many lives. A Fireman though will earn depending on seniority somewhere between £22,000 and £57,000. Not even close to the £100,000 salary of an experienced doctor.

In other ‘socially valuable roles’ that deal with matters of life and death the picture is the same. As an officer in the Army you’d have to reach the rank of Lt Colonel before you were playing in the same ball park as a Doctor. And if you enter as a private you’re never going to get close, even if you run up an exposed hill several times under heavy enemy fire, saving your comrades and fighting off 20 heavily armed members of the Taliban…

It’s the same for Paramedics, Nurses and the Police. It’s also the same for people in professions who make life possible and sustainable. Farmers are not rewarded in the same way as doctors despite being the bedrock of civilisation for thousands of years.

The simple fact of the matter is doctors are paid a handsome salary because they are intelligent, highly skilled professionals, in high demand. It is not because they save lives. They are no different to highly skilled Lawyers, Accountants or ‘mr software engineers’.

They cannot expect to simply click their fingers and get whatever they want. They are not of unique social worth. And if we did base pay on perceived social worth then as far as I’m concerned Firemen should be paid £200,000 per anum… Cos I ain’t gonna go running into no burning building any time soon…

I’ve written about this before, if doctors are unhappy about what they are paid and how their contracts are negotiated then they need to change the way it is done…

  9 comments for “#JuniorDoctors We Don’t Pay Doctors for Saving Lives

  1. Paul Marks
    Mar 15, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    The NHS is wonderful – the envy of the world, Any pile of dead bodies associated with it is the result of “Tory Cuts” and/or the “Privatisation of our NHS” by Zionist Banksters who eat Palestinian babies or sell their organs to profit their boo-hiss “Corporations”. All in violation of “Social Justice”.

    That is the faith position of “the masses” – and I do not see it changing.

  2. Ken Ferguson
    Mar 16, 2016 at 7:29 am

    I agree with you that the sight of well presented young highly paid professionals going on strike over money whilst telling us they are doing it for our benefit is… nauseating.

    However I disagree with you entirely about the fire service. They too rely on the public perception that they provide us with a free service in which they altruistically put their lives on the line to save ours. What’s not to be grateful for?

    In fact, farming, lorry driving and building are far more hazardous occupations than fighting fires – statistically more estate agents die in service each year than firemen (all of the above also true for policemen).

    The FBU is a Marxist union which run rings round their pusillanimous public sector employers by refusing to update arcane and entrenched practises and by negotiating above market pay for their members. Until the fire service can be privatised, I fear none of this will change.

  3. Ken Ferguson
    Mar 16, 2016 at 7:33 am

    I agree with you that the sight of well presented young highly paid professionals going on strike over money whilst telling us they are doing it for our benefit is… nauseating.

    However I disagree with you entirely about the fire service. They too rely on the public perception that they provide us with a free service in which they altruistically put their lives on the line to save ours. What’s not to be grateful for?

    In fact, farming, lorry driving and building are far more hazardous occupations than fighting fires – statistically more estate agents die in service each year than firemen (all of the above also true for policemen).

    The FBU is a Marxist union which run rings round their pusillanimous public sector employers by refusing to update arcane and entrenched practises and by negotiating above market pay for their members. Until the fire service can be privatised, I fear none of this will change.

    • Mar 16, 2016 at 8:45 am

      I don’t doubt that if we dug into the murky would of the FBU we’d find dirt. I was merely trying to highlight that Doctors aren’t the only ones involved in saving lives.

      I fully accept your point on other professions being far more dangerous. I assume though that most Estate Agents are battered to death by disgruntled clients..? 😉

    • Tom
      Apr 26, 2016 at 1:02 pm

      Ken, you’ve accused doctors of being greedy and not caring about patients, and also of being overpaid.

      Unfortunately, all the evidence is to the contrary. I’m a junior doctor, but also a proponent of the free market. It isn’t difficult to work out that if the government are having to artificially cap locum rates to fill rotas, and if doctors find they can be paid much more for the same skill set abroad (they can), they are underpaid, compared to their market value.

      This idea that universities and unions are trying to limit places for doctors is an ideological fantasy. Cohorts are getting bigger year by year, and new medical schools are being created. No one would advocate medicine as a way to get rich – it may come with a side effect of being comfortably provided for, but please believe me on this. I knew people who openly confessed they were in it for the money at medical school: as soon as they qualified and discovered what the job entails, they left to be advisors to pharmaceutical companies, or to London to work in finance.

      The reason I’m reading this site is because I consider myself to be a libertarian. And I heartily agree with Rob’s previous post about liberalising the process of job application and wage setting for doctors. I also agree that carping on about how altruistic they are helps no one and in fact harms their arguments (why not work for minimum wage if the money is nothing to you?). But one thing you cannot claim, unless you’re an idiot, is that “doctors are overpaid”.

    • Mr Ed
      Apr 27, 2016 at 9:18 pm

      Ken,

      Years ago, my employer had the builders in. They accidentally set off a fire alarm, and a fire engine turned up to check the site. The Fire Brigade sent a crew from their Red shift, who found that the errant builders were the ‘moonlighting’ Blue shift from their own station.

  4. Mar 20, 2016 at 11:28 am

    Test

  5. Mar 20, 2016 at 11:34 am

    Test again

  6. Julie near Chicago
    Apr 26, 2016 at 8:33 pm

    From VICE News:

    https://news.vice.com/article/englands-doctors-walk-out-of-emergency-wards-in-first-ever-all-out-strike?utm_source=vicenewstwitter&utm_medium=vicenewstwitteruk

    England’s Doctors Walk Out of Emergency Wards in First Ever All-Out Strike

    The first ever all-out strike by doctors in the history of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) began in England on Tuesday, as junior doctors continue to protest against new contracts they say are unsafe and are being forced upon them.

    Thousands of junior doctors — a term used for medical practitioners who are working while still going through their years of training — walked out of both routine and emergency care. It is the latest in a series of strikes over working hours and pay but is the first that has affected intensive care and maternity and accident and emergency wards.

    The NHS said “military level” contingency planning had been carried out to protect patient safety during the 48-hour strike, including the cancellation of nearly 13,000 operations and more than 100,000 appointments, the redeployment of nurses and more senior doctors into emergency care, and the cancellation of holiday and study leave.

    Article continues at source.

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