Wednesday, April 24, 2024
HomeLaura PerrinsLaura Perrins: Doctors’ strike is a shameful exploitation of a medical monopoly

Laura Perrins: Doctors’ strike is a shameful exploitation of a medical monopoly


Will Ben White, the junior doctor who quit on live TV on Monday morning be repaying the taxpayer cost of his training?

Instead of being in hospital Dr White, in this attention-seeking move, said he feels that the best thing he can do for the NHS is to ‘move across to the legal side and fight for the future of the public health service.’ That is lovely Dr White, only we have trained lawyers for that, not trained doctors who are needed in hospital not the courtroom. If you wanted to do battle in the courtroom then you should have trained to become a lawyer, not a doctor at vast taxpayers’ expense.

It is time now to point out the obvious: the all-out strike by junior doctors is designed and intended to inflict damage upon the public.

That is the point of the strike and this is the reason junior doctors are abandoning their posts. This damage to patient wellbeing is not desired, but it is intended as a necessary evil, a nasty means to what the doctors think is a noble end. In truth this walkout is unethical; it is immoral; it is unjustifiable; and it is wrong.

The Daily Telegraph reported on Saturday that pregnant women were informed that planned inductions of their unborn children were postponed because of the strike. This situation has moved beyond rhetoric to life and death. That induction was planned for a reason – we do not know why – but it was not scheduled on a whim. Now, expectant mothers will have to wait a further five days to be induced. Another posted, “Don’t think I can mentally take it,” after being told she might have to wait an extra two days to be induced.

The mental distress being inflicted upon this expectant mother is entirely because of the first ever all-out strike by junior doctors. This decision to abandon their duty to treat their patients is in my mind, indefensible.

In the same paper on the same day, one doctor in a letter to the editor, said the following.

“Having worked in the NHS for 47 years (seven as a junior doctor and 40 as a consultant), I am disappointed and disheartened to note that some of our highly valued junior doctors have decided to join an all-out strike. In the NHS, no one is bigger than the service they provide. This strike is likely to hurt patients’ welfare. I urge all junior doctors to call off this potentially harmful action.”

If only all doctors has such a sense of duty.

The next letter was telling. It said: “I am a junior doctor. I was recently recruited for training to consultant level in emergency medicine. This six-year programme is designed to address the desperate shortage of trainees in this specialty.”

But he refused the contract.

He tells us, “Instead, I am voting with my feet and taking my much-needed skills to an equivalent training post in New Zealand, where there is still respect for the medical profession.” He does not tell us if he will be repaying the taxpayer the cost of his training, much greater than the £9,000 a year in student fees.

He ends his letter as follows, “Doctors, nurses and allied health professionals have been trying to save the NHS for years. It is now the responsibility of the British public to decide if it wants an NHS and, if it does, it must stand up to the Government.”

Obviously, he does not feel responsible for taking up a place at medical school, being trained at taxpayers’ expense and then withdrawing these ‘much-needed skills’ from the NHS and British public suffering a ‘desperate shortage of trainees in this specialty.’

The truth is the strike is designed to make things so difficult for the public that they will lose patience, ‘stand up to the Government” and demand they settle the dispute on whatever terms are necessary.

This does not mean the public agree with the doctors; it merely means they are desperate. The public will not know or care what the details of the contract are. They will not know, have the time or energy to consider the future costs to surrendering to the doctors and ditching the contract. If you are 36-40 weeks pregnant and need to be induced you need to be induced and you want the strike settled, whether or not it is in the long-term interests of the NHS or the public to do so. This does not mean junior doctors are in the right it merely means their tactic of exploiting a desperate public that has nowhere else to go has been effective.

To exploit desperate pregnant women in this way is absolutely shameful and indefensible. To withhold care in a socialised medical system where there is no realistic alternative should shatter the trust and respect the public ever had in junior doctors.

(Image: Garry Knight)

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