12 January 2016

There is only one topic to discuss today – the junior doctors’ strike.

I mentioned this earlier on Twitter and received a notable response, with that in mind, I’d like to share my thoughts on the matter.stethescope

I wholeheartedly believe that doctors should be well paid – they play an invaluable part in society and there is a very small group of people able to fulfil these duties. Spending several years and thousands of pounds training,  then working gruelling hours, deserves more than fair reward. I doubt anyone would disagree with that.

However, I can’t agree that striking is the way forward. Nothing has ever been resolved by retreating to opposite corners and closing communication. You could argue that striking has brought about conversations that have led to resolutions, but I would disagree.

Ultimately, the same resolution will be reached but that needs to be by sitting down and talking it through. Doctors need their case putting forward – strong reasoning why they’re feeling disgruntled, and they need to be listened to. Striking is the same reaction that a child has when its voice is not being heard. Junior doctors are better than that!

I applaud the 38% of junior doctors who are in work today. My other issue with striking is that they invariably affect people that don’t deserve it. Imagine the extra stress that comes from cancelled appointments, postponed operations and delayed care. Being unwell, and I speak from experience, is incredibly stressful for whole families. Waiting an extra day for test results or a treatment plan, whilst not classed as ‘emergency care’ can have a huge impact on the effect of treatment further down the line and on the overall wellbeing of the patient. It is a shame that it has come down to striking and ultimately, in this sense, going against the junior doctors’ main objective of patient care to resolve this issue.

Like I have said, there is no argument around whether or not doctors should be well paid – that is essential. These people are saving lives, caring for our families and keeping us well, and should be rewarded for doing so. In my opinion, the only people benefitting from this strike are the unions themselves, but perhaps that’s a conversation for another day.

On the other hand, I can’t help but question the role of the government in this. Is it right for people embroiled in pay-scandals, receiving huge expenses budgets and a 10% payrise, compared to the 1% rise of the public sector, to decide on how our doctors are paid? I guess someone has to do that job but it seems ludicrous to have to debate this with people who don’t seem to have a handle on their own finances. Plus, of course, comparing their salaries with those of doctors, how does their value to society compare? I don’t think it quite stacks up.

Back to the strike though, I know it is a contentious topic and many people have very strong opposing views on whether striking is the right course of action. For me, it seems silly. Common sense should dictate that a resolution comes from communication, not from stopping it. I hope to see that this contract debate is resolved soon and that the effect on the NHS is limited.


What do you think?

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