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Hitchen's report highlights UK trusts' failure to balance their books because they recruit “too many” staff.1 However I recently undertook an interesting calculation based on the many hospital identity cards I have accrued since graduating in 2001. Having been fortunate enough to secure a rotation in my chosen specialty after house jobs and accident and emergency experience, I have collected nine such cards to date. If all 39000 junior doctors in the United Kingdom duplicated my experience, which cannot be uncommon with six monthly job changes, and assuming a price of around £1.00 a card, a total of £351000 has been spent on the production of multiple ID cards for UK juniors. Associated hardware (at an additional estimated £1000 for every UK NHS hospital trust) has cost a further £200000, assuming it is a one-off cost.
I look forward to the day a generic card can be taken from job to job, just as my debit card can dispense cash from a variety of banks. If such a card existed in January 2007, 11 more of us could secure run-through posts under Modernising Medical Careers (MMC) in August 2007, bringing the English total number of posts in ophthalmology to 305.2 This would still leave about 100 current senior house officers in my discipline jobless. Perhaps there are other areas of “professional repetition” where savings could be envisaged.
Competing interests: None declared.