The trainee section of the British Association of Urology Surgeons (BAUS) is calling for junior doctors in “time-critical specialties” to be exempt from non-resident on-call room charges.
The call follows an investigation by the BAUS which revealed that trainees are being charged as much as £65 per night for on-call accommodation.
As part of its #DontPayToStay campaign, the association issued freedom of information requests to 213 trusts in England regarding accommodation charges for doctors working a 24-hour non-resident on-call shift. A total of 182 trusts responded (93% response rate). Responses showed that just 145 trusts had rooms available for non-resident on-calls and 30 trusts (20%) charged trainees to use them.
Charges ranged from £9.14 at Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to £65 a night at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in London, which provides on-call accommodation at a local accommodation provider.
In an exclusive interview with the BMJ, Katie Chan, founder of the #DontPayToStay campaign, said: “Our deaneries are geographically large, and the time-sensitive nature of our on-call work means that it is usually not possible to live within a safe distance. So, staying on site for on-calls is something we usually expect, although most registrars would prefer to be at home rather than in hospital accommodation.”
She said that junior doctors affected by the charges faced a significant financial burden. A trainee working a one-in-eight rota and paying a median charge of £25 would spend £1,140 over a year.
“Doctors should be allowed to provide an on-call service that they consider to be safe, without risk of personal financial loss,” said Chan. “Despite all the good work from the BMA on this issue, charges still continue. Changing the junior doctor contract is the only robust way to make sure that these charges are abandoned.”