Why we should stand behind the junior doctors and their strikes

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It is seemingly always debated, when strikes happen, what is the point of them, what do they achieve, these are just a few of the silly questions asked. Their opponents tend to attack the strikers as “jumping the gun” and aim to remind them that strikes are meant to be a “last resort” when all else has failed, rather than understanding the brave acts they actually are.

To put the junior doctors’ strike into perspective, this was the first time in 35 years that they have reached the decision to strike. 98% of those who voted agreed to this action, knowing full well the implications of such a move. But, came to the conclusion, rightly so, that there was no other option. Admittedly, around three thousand non-emergency operations had to be cancelled or rescheduled but emergency care continued, a small price to pay in my view.

It is easy to view the strikes in a negative light, especially in the way they are presented in the media. Undoubtedly, if you were one of the approximately three thousand patients affected, it must have been a stressful for a time, but humility and understanding in these matters is always needed.

This government, in its current delusional state, is focused on a manic proposals to extend NHS services into a 7 day week. Whilst good in intention, considering that the NHS is struggling under a current 5 day week, it is obvious why junior doctors and other medical professionals are increasingly concerned by the current trajectory of healthcare policy.

Beyond this, junior doctors already work on the weekends with very little to show for it, they work implausible shifts and the current moves could see them end up with significantly less, whilst a small 1% could be better off in the long run. These doctors work day in, day out, providing vital services and safeguards, all the while under increasing and ludicrous pressures, whilst receiving a moderate wage that is not realistically going to increase, while their workload certainly will.

Do not be angry at these pillars of the NHS, be angry at those determined to trample them. This government is trying to destroy the very framework of our society, and in doing so is forcing dedicated workers into insane positions.

I can accept that a 24 hour strike, in the long run, may do little. Especially as the government weaken the effectiveness of such moves, as well as our broader democracy but that is another debate to be had. These acts are still important in highlighting the issues which exist and the dangers that are posed to our society and especially to our NHS.

As, the founder of the NHS, Nye Bevan said: “The NHS will last while there are folks left to fight for it”, an ideal which is as important now as it has ever been. The Government may end up getting their way, who knows how talks will end, but if another strike is called, join them and back them. Even when these doctors are away from the operating theatre and on the picket line, I assure you, they are still doing us a vital service and we owe them more than we know.

 

Luke Maunsell 

[Image: Birmingham Mail]

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