This week saw Hospital Doctors (who are far from “Junior” having done intensive training at great cost both financial and personal) forced into taking industrial action. The Tory Government wants to open up the NHS to aggressive privatisation and breaking the Unions is a key component in this strategy as cowed and compliant workers don’t give the company owners grief. By breaking the Doctors who have record performance and trust levels with the public, the rest of the workforce is softened up. If Doctors can’t win, what chance have we got? is the hoped for outcome for Mr. Hunt.
The 2012 Health and Social Care Act absolved the Secretary of State for Health of any direct responsibility for what happens in the NHS. This was an unprecedented attempt by the Government to put a firewall between themselves and poor performance such as ambulance arrival figures and time spent waiting in A and E. But when it came to the contract for Doctors Mr. Hunt could not resist the urge to impose his personal will. Funny that.
Katharine Murphy is CEO of the Patients Association and her words sum up the anger in the country.
“The Government’s decision to impose contract terms on junior doctors is unacceptable. The health and social care system depends entirely on the great people who work in services across the community for the benefit of patients. It is clear that many of these vital people are seriously unhappy and have very low morale. There is a big shortage of GPs and many will leave the profession shortly. Alongside this, Trusts have been unable to recruit the nurses and other health professionals they need, and hospital doctors are united in opposition to the imposed contract changes.
“It is clear that the acrimonious dispute over the junior doctors’ contract is unnecessary and damaging. Doctors have a very real concern that the imposed terms will stretch the existing resource too thinly and will threaten the quality of patient care, while driving the next generation away from joining the profession.
“To deliver an expanded seven day working week a sober and comprehensive review of proper staffing levels is needed, not selective soundbites. The Patients Association calls for an independent review to propose a viable way forward that will improve services to patients while being fair to all doctors.
“This is all against a background of an NHS which has missed a whole range of service targets for months and appears unable to offer a sustainable service in summer or winter, while at the same time spending has exceeded the current budgets. Concurrently, local authority social care spending has been cut significantly and this is adding to the pressures on hospitals and harming patients. Services are failing large numbers of the public and through our helpline we hear daily about the impact on individual patients and carers.”
It was noticeable the Leader of the Labour Party decided not to ask Cameron one single question regarding dispute on Wednesday, the day of the strike. In sympathy with Mr. Corbyn there was similar deafening silence from Tim Farron, the Lib Dem Leader on the day.
Politicians eh? I am at a loss. We pay them Premier League wages and they deliver the equivalent performance of hung over Sunday morning pub footballers.
I spent the day in hospital and it was noticeable just how much of the routine leg work is done by the Doctors below registrar and consultant level. My operation was cancelled but as with the other’s on the ward the blame lay firmly with Mr. Hunt and not the workers under the cosh.
We need the NHS to be fully funded, free from private contractors and crucially run by the people who know what they’re doing ie the workers. Managers should be elected by their teams and fully accountable at all times to democratic scrutiny. This should be part of a planned economy and a planned society. If you were taking a trip on a ‘plane you would worry if the Skipper came over the radio to announce that we will hurtle along the runway and play it by ear (and by the way I’m estate agent and just fancied doing this for a laugh).
This dispute is symbolic. If the Tories win then it is truly open season on the Unions. That’s why the hated Trade Union Bill is so important to the Government.