Back in February, I had the temerity to argue that the roots of the doctors' strike lay in the feminisation of the profession: that women doctors' demands for part-time work had created a ‘rights before responsibility’ culture in the National Health Service. This feminised cadre of junior doctors parading the streets on strike last month, taking ‘selfies’, virtue signalling hashtag placards thrust forward, displayed a narcissism and sense of entitlement that sat ill with their profession’s calling and duty of care.
All hell broke out – on the comment stream and in the Twittersphere. I’d hit a raw nerve.
From young anaesthetists who believed society’s gratitude to them should know no bounds, to aggressive ‘troll’ doctors with their barely veiled threats about my own health care should I need it, it was all flung at ‘despicable’ me. It would never have occurred to me that doctors spent so much of their time on social media.
Not that I was the only one to get it in the neck for suggesting that feminisation is to blame for the current crisis. Junior doctors in their thousands vented their outrage at Dominic Lawson’s Sunday Times column on the subject.
They cannot now be unaware that sympathy for their proposed strike escalation (a two day stoppage this week followed by an all-out daytime strike with no emergency cover on April 26-27) is running out as unease grows that the principle of ‘do no harm’ has yielded to ‘do no more overtime’. As Adam Boulton noted also in The Sunday Times: ‘Duty and responsibility as motivations for action have been replaced by what is forced out of individuals by the assertion of conflicting rights’.
He didn’t choose to spell out what these were. But the feminists' gender parity agenda is never far away. I am not talking about equal pay for equal work. I am talking about their demand for special treatment for less work – if you happen to be one of the women who graces the NHS with her part-time and uncommitted presence.
Yes, that’s exactly what part-time junior doctor Dr Rachel Clarke, representing the BMA’s militant case, demanded on Saturday morning’s Today programme.
Unless she were paid the same as her full-time working male colleagues for her part-time hours it would count as an act of discrimination. From this spurious moral high ground she shamelessly insisted on an entitlement to the same pay and progression throughout her career as her full-time working colleagues – since, in her inverted logic, 80 per cent of part-time doctors were women and they therefore must have gender parity. Because this is modern Britain, she added in a final reductio ad absurdum.
That her logic would condemn the NHS to becoming a totally part-time working service of women bothered her not one jot.
Far from counting her blessings – for her already flexible short hours, for keeping her hand in at work while bringing up children, and a regular pay cheque – she was intransigent about what modern Britain owed her. And her feminist colleagues are not about to take any prisoners either.
Criticise their ideology at your peril and they’ll demand a ‘safe space’ from offence – and from reality – by accusing you of discrimination and threatening worse.
Witness an outraged email I received last week from one female junior doctor. So horrified was she by my article (it damaged female professionals and the workforce as a whole, you should know) that she said I must submit to her challenging my views in a public forum – or else.
Should I not have ‘the fortitude to do so’ and if she ‘did not receive an adequate answer’ she’d publicly shame me – and the Conservative Party she mistakenly believes me to represent (no sir!) – about our ‘backwards views on gender’. She’d also seek legal advice on my being ‘in breach of discrimination legislation’.
Quaking I was not. As my colleague Laura said: “Wow - what a brittle bunch they are! Someone does not like what you say, they say I am going to sue you.” So bring it on Doctor, we say.
While at TCW we can laugh (we are not about to be cowed) it is not so funny for others.
Take the the double bind the Royal College of Paediatrics finds itself in. It is deeply ironic that it is children’s services that are the most threatened by the NHS’s feminised work culture where staff shortages, due to the rise in part-time working doctors, now threaten the closure of specialist children’s surgeries and wards.
But does the compliant and emasculated Royal College dare say enough is enough – that training so many female doctors who refuse to work full time with children is no longer viable? No. Instead they put these tender ladies' ‘safe space’ rights before the safety of the children in need and in their care. Instead, they ask the government – that means the taxpayer – to plug this gap to continue to feed the inefficiencies and negative ethos of this self-entitled female work culture.
(Image: Garry Knight)