Health & Lifestyle

Outrage over NHS job ad for a brain cancer surgeon that pays as little as £33,000 a year

A job advert for a brain cancer surgeon potentially paying as little as £33,000 per year has sparked outrage online. 

Barts Health NHS Trust advertised for a neuro-oncology fellow, accredited by the Royal College of Surgeons. 

The fellowship, which specialises in the management and treatment of brain and spinal cord tumours, was listed for between £33,790 and £53,132. 

However, the 12-month fixed term contract, based at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, is applicable only to those ranked CCT/ST8.  

As an ST8 (specialty trainee year eight) medics have already completed a decade working as a junior doctor following a five-year medical degree. CCT-level medics qualify as consultants, who can easily earn upwards of £100,000-a-year.

Some choose to take a fellowship to ‘bridge the gap’ between senior trainee and a consultant.  

In a Twitter post attracting 9.1million views and over 1,000 retweets, one user wrote 'the UK needs a hard reset'. 'Speechless. I hope no-one applies', responded another user. 'UK is one of the least attractive countries to work as a doctor' and I'd like to say I'm shocked. I'm afraid I'm not,' were among other responses

In a Twitter post attracting 9.1million views and over 1,000 retweets, one user wrote ‘the UK needs a hard reset’. ‘Speechless. I hope no-one applies’, responded another user. ‘UK is one of the least attractive countries to work as a doctor’ and I’d like to say I’m shocked. I’m afraid I’m not,’ were among other responses

Upon graduation, all medical graduates must complete a two-year general training programme before embarking on specialty training — which can take up to eight years. 

As an ST8, candidates will have also completed consultancy exams or are about to complete them. 

A Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT), the next level, confirms that a doctor ‘has completed an approved training programme in the UK and is eligible for entry onto the GP Register or the Specialist Register’.

Among the post’s responsibilities include working on-call at the Royal London Hospital, supervising a ST3 trainee — specialty trainee year three — out of hours and attending a weekly multidisciplinary neuro-oncology clinic held at St Bartholemew’s Hospital.

The fellow is also expected to ‘regularly review pre- and post-operative neuro-oncology patients’. 

But taking to social media, Brits shared their outrage at the expected salary requirements in the job ad, which was listed at the end of May. 

In a Twitter post attracting 9.1million views and over 1,000 retweets, one user wrote ‘the UK needs a hard reset’. 

‘Speechless. I hope no-one applies’, responded another user.

‘UK is one of the least attractive countries to work as a doctor’ and I’d like to say I’m shocked. I’m afraid I’m not,’ were among other responses. 

And Professor Stefan Marciniak, a specialist lung doctor at the Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, simply said: ‘It’s literally brain surgery.’

On TikTok, newly qualified medic @Saifs.Space, who will begin as a foundation year one doctor in London shortly, said: ‘This is the person that operates on you or your family member’s brain tumours when you’re so unwell and this is highly skilled and highly specialised work.’ 

In the video, watched over 291,000 times, he added: ‘This is just so shameful. This is what we feel our healthcare professionals are worth in the UK.

‘That’s just not it.’

Responding to the TikTok, users expressed their outrage over the salary expectations. ‘I’m so sorry that is ridiculous – this country is a joke’, one responded. 

Another questioned: ‘Is it even worth me starting med school this September?’ 

Barts Health NHS Trust is one of the largest acute trusts in the NHS in England.

Established in 2012, it runs five hospitals throughout the City of London and East London. 

Disgruntled NHS medics say the pandemic has shone a light on how poorly they are valued in the UK, a factor that helped launched a wave of strike action across the UK to boost their pay. 

The British Medical Association (BMA), the organisation behind the action, says the workforce has suffered a 26 per cent real-terms cut to their pay since 2008/09.

Addressing this translates to a 35 per cent pay increase.

If ministers were to accept, some medics would see their salaries increase by up to £20,000.

The BMA’s co-chair Vivek Trivedi has suggested that the BMA are willing to negotiate a deal that would see this restoration completed over a number of years, rather than in one big jump.

This chart shows the number of UK registered doctors who have requested documents for a job application overseas over the past five years. Interest peaked in 2022, but 2023 is also on track to be a bumper year

This chart shows the number of UK registered doctors who have requested documents for a job application overseas over the past five years. Interest peaked in 2022, but 2023 is also on track to be a bumper year

While Australia topped the list for both destinations other countries like the US and the United Arab Emirates are also of interest for UK medics looking for greener pastures

While Australia topped the list for both destinations other countries like the US and the United Arab Emirates are also of interest for UK medics looking for greener pastures 

Australian figures suggest roughly half of UK medics who apply for a job in Australia are successful, with nearly 950 getting in 2021-22 compared to the 1,800 who applied in the 2022 calendar year

Australian figures suggest roughly half of UK medics who apply for a job in Australia are successful, with nearly 950 getting in 2021-22 compared to the 1,800 who applied in the 2022 calendar year

More than 650,000 NHS appointments in England have been cancelled due to health service strikes since December, official figures show

More than 650,000 NHS appointments in England have been cancelled due to health service strikes since December, official figures show

However, ministers claim unions’ demands for double digit pay rises are simply unaffordable and would have to come at the expense of patient services.

There are very little signs of any compromise in the near future and while the dispute continues NHS waiting lists are rising to record levels.

The lowest paid junior doctors, in their first foundation year, earn an annual salary of £29,384.

This, the BMA argues, can equate to around £14.09 per hour. But this is dependent on them not working weekends or nights, or earning overtime.

The basic wage of the most senior junior doctor — ST6 to ST8, in their final years of specialty training — is capped at £58,398 per year.

The pay in the job advert that sparked outrage matches the pay-scale for specialty registrars, which begins at £33,790 per year and extends to £53,132. These are still junior doctors, who are training to become consultants. 

Although qualified as consultants once awarded a CCT, some medics find the step-up ‘challenging’, according to the Royal College of Surgeons.

Such fellowships, usually offered on a 12-month basis, ‘help bridge the gap’, support skills development for the medic in question, and can provide a post while the doctor applies for consultant level positions. 

However, such CCT-roles have been criticised in the past as a cost-saving measure used by some hospitals to avoid having to pay a consultant level salary. 

Consultants can be paid upwards of £110,000-a-year. 

As is common across many sectors, junior doctors earn more if they work overtime, overnight, or at the weekend. 

Growing anger among medics over poor pay and working conditions has already seen record numbers of British doctors, nurses and midwives also try to move abroad — with Australia top of their list. 

Almost 25,000 applications to get documents needed to secure a job overseas were made to UK healthcare regulators in 2022. The vast majority represent NHS workers. 

Figures obtained by MailOnline reveal nearly 7,000 doctors applied for documents to support an application to work abroad from the British medical regulator, the General Medical Council (GMC), in 2022. This was up from 6,100 in 2019. 

Separate figures for 2023, which only go up until May, suggest this year will see an even bigger exodus, with almost 3,500 applying for their documents so far. 

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