Same problem, different result

20th July 2001 at 01:00
Consider the following:

* morale at a distressing new low

* intolerable workloads

* gimmicky government initiatives and assaults on professionalism

* insulting bribes to delay retirement and return after retirement

* applications for initial training down

* more than half the profession ready to consider quitting

* constant denigration and public criticism

* refusal to be whipping boys

Sound familiar? Yes? Could almost have been teachers, but no, that "whipping boys" bit gave it away, didn't it?

It was Ian Bogle, in his presidential speech to the British Medical Association conference. He was given a standing ovation.

And the Government's response? Behind the scenes, it's reported that doctors are "optimistic" they will be able to agree more advantageous contract terms in negotiations with Health Secretary Alan Milburn who is also expected to "relax" plans to prevent hospital consultants treating private patients during their first seven years after qualification. No "tough" talk here, or "continuing rigour". Naming, blaming and shaming isn't on the agenda.

And salaries? A flat-rate teacher should - if they get through the performance-related pay hurdle - be on pound;30,000 after 14 years, which is a bit longer than Estelle "10-year" Morris forecasts the future teacher lasting.

Average GP salary is pound;55,000 net (allowances and expenses are extra). Doubtless GPs are worth every penny.

But if burn-out and dropping out is really a common professional hazard, shouldn't the terms of engagement be more equitable?

Peter Dean 11 Garden Fields Little Shelford,Cambridge

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