Monday, 14 June 2010


I've a wife and children so am not a workaholic, I arrive at 8.20am or a bit earlier and leave when I can, which usually is before 6.00pm. At home I do end up doing a fair bit of work on nights, usually generating presentations or reviewing/ammending policy documentation or teaching materials or interview questions and model answers or Continuing Professional Development, so there're many extra hours of work there, too. I guess that's almost 10 hours a day at work, plus an hour or two most nights at home, making for a reasonable investment in time whilst trying to keep a decent work/life balance.

On top of this there is on call work, out of hours. As a doctor approved under section 12 (2) of the MHA 1983, that means all Mental Health Act work comes to me, out of hours. Since junior doctors can't do liaison psychiatry now, all hospital queries come to me, too. A&E and police seem to like to have my point of view, too. Our in-patient wards have junior doctor support, but these doctors have to discuss pretty much everything with me (eg they're not allowed to prescribe anything off licence . . . which pretty much makes up all out of hours prescribing decisions).

Whilst on call I'm just waiting to be hassled by anyone and everyone. It is not restful. There are many calls. Unlike many Consultant colleagues in the acute Trust, I frequently have to go out to see a patient in the middle of the night. Not uncommonly, several patients.

In one recent week on call I had 21 hours sleep over 5 days, averaging a touch over 4 hours a night.

Against the background of working something like 11 or 12 hours a day anyway, the nights on call are a real kicker. Still, I'm paid £3.17 an hour for this (less 40% tax then other deductions), so for £1-something an hour I'm certainly not doing it for the cash.

Investing blood, sweat and tears into a vocation you're passionate about is commonplace amongst my medical colleagues. I could hug Nurse Anne for, in an inadvertent comment lost at the bottom of a thread of much more important themes, reminding folk that doctors invariably work very very hard. Bless her cotton socks. *hugs*


The Girl said...

Wow. I hope those of us entering our medical careers can find things we are as passionate about - you would have to be, to deal with that kind of workload.

It is great to hear from somebody who clearly loves working in psychiatry.

Milk and Two Sugars said...

Exactly. If it didn't fulfill you, Shrink, it would be oh so difficult to do. And as one of those junior doctors please let me reiterate how wonderfully supported we feel when we know we've a consultant who considers call his duty, rather than his pennance, and is understanding when we call in the middle of the night (a thing I've often had to do for haematology patients).