Striking Doctors Are a Disgrace (But Patients Should Not Worry Too Much)

by Dr Vernon Coleman MB ChB DSc FRSA

Junior hospital doctors working for the National Health Service have been striking and pictured marching through the streets with angry faces and badly drawn banners. I find it all very depressing. Professionals with duties and responsibilities should never, ever withdraw their labour because the only people who really suffer are, in the case of doctors, the patients. There is absolutely no doubt that striking doctors will cause much distress and unnecessary pain. Equally, there is no doubt that doctors who do strike should be struck off the medical register and have their licenses revoked.

I was a junior hospital doctor back in the early 1970s and although we worked much harder than todayís doctors (168 hour weeks were not at all unknown and working weeks of 120 hours or more were commonplace) and were paid a pittance (under £700 a year I seem to remember) we would have no more dreamt of going on strike than todayís young doctors would dream of turning off their mobile phones and closing their Twitter accounts.

Todayís call for the strike has apparently been supported by 99% of junior doctors.

If there had been a vote in the 1970s the vote would have been the other way round; with 99% voting not to strike. Oh, how the world has changed. Todayís young doctors are members of the Entitlement Generation. They think only of themselves. They are well paid and work short hours but they want more money and even shorter working hours.

Greed engenders greed.

I find it deeply depressing that doctors should even contemplate punishing patients because they have a dispute with their employers.

The gentlemanly, professional thing to do would be to resign en masse and give the requisite period of notice. But todayís doctors are too imbued with a sense of personal entitlement, and a complete lack of courage, to have the guts to do that. So, instead, they use their patients as weapons in striving for more money.

I am particularly saddened because todayís pampered young doctors are striking not because Britainís health care services are among the worst in the world, or because the incidence of infection in British hospitals is higher than anywhere else or because Britainís cancer survival rates are the worst in the developed world but because they arenít happy about the new contract theyíre being offered.

The strike is about money. Donít let anyone tell you different.

The striking doctors donít want more money for patient care. They donít want less money spent on administration and more on treatment programmes. They arenít fighting for the sick. They are fighting for themselves; selfishly demanding a better contract and more cash. (Young GPs are often just as bad. Until the practice was banned, some young GPs were charging patients to telephone their surgeries to make appointments.)

Despite this, the selfish little buggers (well versed in the art of spin) have been prancing around in the streets holding up banners carrying slogans such as ĎSave the NHSí. They should be struck off the medical register for entirely unprofessional behaviour.

The junior doctors are also complaining that the NHS bosses now want them to be available for work at weekends so that patients can be treated seven days a week. The doctors will, of course, be paid for this inconvenience but their complaint appears to be that they wonít be paid enough. And lots of them donít want to work weekends because to do so would cut into their social lives.

The miserable little bastards should have trained as accountants.

Sadly, older doctors who would happily stand in for the striking doctors are prevented from doing so by the General Medical Council which has introduced regulations preventing retired doctors from doing any medical work at all. Thousands of experienced doctors must now sit on the side lines; unable to do anything to help.

Naturally, as their posters suggest, the doctors and their union officials persist in arguing that they are going on strike to improve the NHS in some strange way. This is a blatant lie and reminds me of the sort of spin favoured by politicians and corporate public relations spokespersons. It also reminds me of the confectionary companies claiming that they are making their chocolate bars smaller in order to fight obesity.

Modern doctors have proved time and time again that as a profession they donít give a damn about patients or the NHS. The death of medicine as a profession is now complete.

Still, patients need not worry too much.

Whenever and wherever doctors go on strike, the incidence of doctor induced disease falls, the number of deaths from hospital infections drops and, not surprisingly, the nationís death rate goes down. Undertakers hate it when doctors go on strike because business goes into a steep decline.

I bet the striking junior doctors didnít know that.

Copyright Vernon Coleman 2016