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I Have Chronic Urgent Health Issues. I Support the Hospital Doctor’s Strikes.

Last time I wrote about my health issues Danny and I were accused of using our illnesses for political gain (Danny was having treatment for testicular cancer) by none other than the esteemed Member of Parliament for Brigg and Goole. But here goes anyway.


I currently facing the worst health crisis since er… the last one. My treatment for Anti GAD Associated Cerebella Ataxia which involved thrice fortnightly trips to Leeds for Plasma Exchange (think dialysis for the blood) has been indefinitely suspended as complications arising from sepsis such as hyper anemia, gastroparesis, diabetes issues, nerve damage and various other disappointing problems make PLEX actually exacerbate matters. This is in addition to my right arm which is a complete mess due to my fistula going wrong.

As it stands I am waiting for an urgent MRI scan, an emergency neuro appointment, a diabetes consultation to sort out why my insulin injections aren’t being absorbed, plus podiatry to look at my numb and mangled feet. I have given up on my failing eyesight, and arthritis which only morphine can just about make bearable. I need a new wheelchair, plus access to the pain clinic and physio but I just can’t be arsed when there are other priorities. As for mental health; that’s non starter.

Therefore the last thing I or anyone in my position needs at the moment is widespread industrial action. But that’s what we’ve got thanks to the politically motivated posturing and provocation of Jeremy Hunt. I am certain that James Naughtie’s  December 2010 slip of the tongue was deliberate, and if not it was a prescient Freudian slip given the Farnham MP’s ministerial career to date.

The main way in which the Hospital Doctor’s strike (let’s stop calling them “Junior”) is going to affect chaps and chapesses like me is the cancellation of clinics which means that the cycle never gets started in the first place. It just gets delayed and delayed. Then the managers start having to prioritise patients which then becomes politically sensitive, especially when it comes to cancer which is number one in the media stakes.

If this sounds bitchy it’s because cancer is the Blue Ribband of illnesses. This is great; witness the world class Queen’s Centre that the Labour Government built at Castle Hill in the East Riding. All patients, with all conditions should be in receipt of such high services. We want to end the race to the bottom and promote excellence across the board. This can only be done via a free NHS which is taxpayer funded and run democratically, with tangible lines of accountability, and crucially without the accountants getting involved in clinical decisions.

Hunt and the Tories, in order to distract the public from the return of the annual Winter Crisis which had much to do with devastating £20 billion cuts (Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals Trust HEY announced £99 million in 2012) in the last Parliament announced that they would create a 7 day NHS if elected in 2015. Few would argue that things are more likely to go wrong at the weekend. My own sepsis scrape resulted from one one senior enough taking control on the Saturday and an e coli infected central line was left in my chest for three days. But this had more to do with a rotten culture of mismanagement at HEY than anything else.

Hunt is seeking this confrontation with the Hospital Doctors on behalf of the Tories and neo liberals as a whole. The contract is the presenting issue. Just as Thatcher aimed to destroy organised industrial labour via the miners strike of 1984/5, so this time the objective is to take the most widely respected public sector profession and destroy them. Firstly by trashing their reputation and secondly by driving these highly trained people out of the sector. Then the Tories can point to a failing NHS, promulgate that lie that it is fully funded, and then privatise the thing lock stock and barrel claiming it no longer works.

This dispute is totemic and a line in the sand affair. If the doctors are smashed what hope for millions of other health workers, let alone Local Government and education workers? How can minimum wage female public sector worker, who make up a large section of the personnel ever aspire to better their terms and conditions if the Doctors are defeated?

Parts of the Left have been mobilised to a rather bland and futile cause around who leads the Labour Party into oblivion; a theoretical issue which produces much hot air and gnashing of teeth. The test of their credentials now comes. Can they organise and effective and similarly mass movement when it really matters? Can they galvanise to get out onto the streets, leaflet, door knock and demonstrate on an issue that can really change things?

Let’s hope they can take heed of the brilliantly executed plan to defeat the Poll Tax and copy the template that forced Tory Secretary of State Patrick Jenkin to write a £23 million refund cheque to Liverpool City Council in 1984. Both of these victories (and many others) were organised and led by Socialists around the Militant newspaper. Learning from the successes and mistakes of the past let’s build a mass movement to back the Doctors and to prevent the Labour Party and the BMA union from selling out our NHS staff.

Victory (hopefully before the strikes) will see confidence snow ball and the end to this unelected Tory cabal of a government can be brought about sooner rather than later.



About dermotrathbone

Writer and co author "Through Red Lenses". Activist Unite the Union, Save Our NHS Hull. Fan of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Hull FC, Munster and Ireland Rugby. Views are mine alone and may not reflect the organisations concerned.


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