An article in The Guardian on Sunday revealed junior doctors have set up a mock betting shop called ‘Jeremy’s Punt’ to illustrate the damage Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s insulting new junior doctors and consultants contracts could have on patients’ health. In the midst of all the acrimony, it’s good to see doctors make us laugh to make a serious point. Evens are offered on ‘being treated by an overworked doctor’ and 3/1 on ‘reforms causing a preventable medical error.’ Maybe one of David Cameron’s team could put a bet on and see whether they get a return. We are all patients now, after all.
Looking at the terms of the contract, junior doctors have no option but to strike. Mr Hunt is determined to make them live to work by implementing a ‘radical’ seven day NHS, despite the fact it already runs for seven days a week, 365 days a year thanks to a multiplicity of altruistic workers.
Having read a report by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) suggesting more deaths occur at weekends, Hunt, in all his unbiased wisdom, attributed the spike to poor staffing, despite being warned by the editor of the BMJ, Dr. Fiona Godlee, that the report ‘did not apportion blame’. That hasn’t stopped Mr Hunt repeatedly waving that unfounded claim in public to justify corrosive new measures.
His new prescription includes scrapping automatic annual pay-rises for junior doctors and removing safeguards preventing doctors working intolerably long hours, which, would of course usher in a new era of patient wellbeing and staff satisfaction. Despicable as they are, these measures are indicative of how the Tory Party views public sector workers: disposable, a nuisance and an enemy of the individualistic free-market ideology they revere.
Mr Hunt sealed his addition to the book of cockney rhyming slang a long time ago. As Culture Secretary for the Coalition he paved the road himself to BskyB for NewsCorp and Rupert Murdoch to take over, without referring their bid to the Competition Commission. As Health Secretary he’s dared to question doctors’ commitment by using the Paris atrocity as a proxy to degrade their principled stance. Mr Hunt’s also fed excerpts from clashes with the British Medical Association (BMA) to the baying Tory Press eager to present junior doctors as grasping, in a bid to turn the public against the people who nurse their loved ones back to full health.
Is it any wonder why they are striking for the first time since 1975?
Demonization of junior doctors
The demonization of junior doctors is mystifying and disgraceful in equal measure. Like any body of workers who goes on strike, you don’t get paid for taking industrial action. As controversial as it might sound, strikes are meant to cause disruption to make a point. Like any body of workers who take the difficult decision when all other options have been exhausted, doctors know they won’t be popular. They are striking because there is no other way. They refrained from doing so at the beginning of December after a superficial reprieve was granted by the prize Hunt, showing they weren’t hungry to strike for anarchy’s sake.
Those nodding along to Hunt’s assertion that BMA militants desperately want action ought to remember Hunt’s disgustingly slimy spin war, and the rescinding of strike action late last year, before condemning brave workers who are absolutely right to strike.
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