I will no doubt get some stick about what follows in this blog but I can hand on heart say it’s a subject I’m passionate about.
I write this on the second morning of a two day strike by junior doctors across England.
It’s the first time in the NHS’s history that this has happened and quite frankly it’s angered me.
I think that just like the military, doctors shouldn’t be allowed to strike. When they sign up for a career in medicine in the public sector they know what they are letting themselves in for.
Long unsociable hours, pressure, stress and a lot more besides. While I have an enormous amount of respect for most doctors I don’t agree with what they are doing at the moment.
The dispute seems to revolve around working hours and pay, but a big sticking point seems to be the payments for working on a Saturday. My understanding is that they used to get paid more for unsociable hours i.e. weekend evenings but now they won’t.
However they WILL be getting an overall rise in basic pay.
When I was in the RAF I saw firsthand how tragedy can happen due to public sector strikes. In 1977 and 1978 when the fire brigade went on strike and the military was called in to offer emergency cover I was a member of one of the makeshift crews.
We had very little training but were thrust into a position for six months of protecting London from the hazards of fire.
We attended a fire in east London where a young man died and I always felt that if the professionals were there at the scene, rather than us, his life may well have been saved.
My nephew who is in the army has served four tours of Iraq and Afghanistan despite sometimes questioning the motives behind the action. He has no option to strike if he doesn’t like it. But he can of course leave the army if he felt that strongly.
That’s his choice and doctors have a similar choice. If they are unhappy with the new contracts they should seek work in the private sector or somewhere they feel their knowledge is getting satisfactorily rewarded.
In the UK we’re lucky that most of us have choices. I choose to work a sixty hour week to build and maintain my own business. No one makes me do it, I’m not forced to and in reality neither are doctors.
People who hold positions of responsibility in the public sector shouldn’t be allowed to strike in my opinion. In this specific case more needs to be done by both sides.
The NHS deserves respect and I still think of and thank the doctors who saved my son Jason’s life following an accident he had as a small boy. They were amazing, even if the aftercare left a hell of a lot to be desired.
Doctors are not above scrutiny, and certainly politicians aren’t either so I think both sides need to sit down and thrash out a deal and stop putting people’s lives at risk.
Thanks for reading,