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GPs go forth

'Striking is just something doctors should not do'

Dr Nick Summerton, a GP in East Yorkshire and a former NICE adviser, argues that junior doctors should be speaking to the Government, and not striking

We are supposed to be professionals and patient focused. This strike is so damaging to the profession and I don’t see what it will achieve.

It’s a symptom of what’s going on with the NHS at the moment - there has to come a point when junior doctors decide whether they are professionals or not.

There’s an ‘I can’t be bothered’ culture among some junior doctors - some can’t be bothered to send out letters when patients are discharged or give us calls to let us know about results or deaths.

I think it is right that patients have access to a seven-day a week health service and if junior doctors dispute this they should continue to oppose the scheme with dialogue and discussion, not a strike.

It’s causing a lot of disruption - there is certainly an issue of trust between the BMA and the department of health, yes, but striking is just something doctors should not do.

That junior doctors are willing to strike is a tragic symptom of the deprofessionalisation of the medical profession. Back when I trained, being a junior doctor was awful, you’d work days and nights and nights again but we had a dialogue, not a strike.

Dr Nick Summerton is a GP in East Yorkshire and a former NICE adviser

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Readers' comments (125)

  • Could he actually be any more naïve ?😷

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  • Nick - I am really disappointed with this article. Whilst I admire your individuality and candour, you have got it so, so wrong on this one.

    Your genaralised smears about the professionalism of juniors is like something out of the sun article the other day, highlighting the fact that juniors go on holiday!

    You are repeating the stuck record mantra of old dinosaurs time and time again - I worked 150 hours a week down the coal mine so why can't they?

    I, too, worked these horrific hours and it was mental and phyical torture. I spend a lot of time with GP trainees in my role as a Programme Director and I am more concerned about them burning out through over caring and over achievement than being unprofessional. You have provided no basis for your assertions.

    You may wish to reflect why the juniors have so much support from GPs, consultants, nurses and HCAs. It is because we are all sick to death of the way this government is treating us and the juniors have the balls to do something about it.

    Let's hope the GPC follows suit at the end of this month.

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  • I assume this chap is a certain age given his comments and his NICE-ness. If so, how can he possibly say we had "dialogue". We had slave labour...that's what we had. Dialogue is a two-way communication. Government always wants unilateral imposition and, at last, there is the bravery and determination to oppose this. Yes, it is sad that it has come to this but it does when faced with unreasonable intransigence. I suppose our other favourite, Prof Field, is also having paroxysms.

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  • Dr Summerton - you can only have a dialogue if the other person is willing to talk.

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  • Dr Summerton may have worked over-long hours in "his" day but that is not a sign of professionalism. neither did talking to the Government correct that form of exploitation, European legislation was far more influential. Maybe not for much longer....

    There is nothing unprofessional about the junior Dr's, neither is there anything unprofessional about Mr Hunt. Our Junior Doctors are professionals who use science and understanding in order to help the public get and keep well. Mr Hunt is a professional who uses anecdote and misunderstanding (such as the multiply determined clinical "weekend effect") in order to help the Conservatives get and keep power. If Mr Hunt were prepared to listen he might hear what is being said.

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  • Internet Profile of Dr NS (staying focused)
    "Current areas of focus:
    - The relevance of Greco-Roman medicine to modern clinical practice. A TV programme is currently being planned and two new papers have recently been published"
    Relevance: Slaves are not allowed to strike.

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  • I am a GP of the same era as Dr Summerton. I find his lack of insight into the working conditions of the present generation of doctors and his paucity of empathy quite unbelievable. Is he totally unaware of the hours they work and the intensity of that work with few breaks and little time for a meaningful family life. If his patients were being treated like this by their employers he would probably be fighting their corner. Why then is he denigrating his hospital colleagues for fighting for their rights of a decent wage for their level of responsibility, knowledge and experience and also protecting their own health. High levels of Responsibility without the power to negotiate your conditions of employment ( one sided contract which can be imposed ) is a short cut to an early death. But then that is Jeremy's ultimate goal the death of the NHS by a thousand lashes. Then he can blame the doctors and nurses and bring in the private Giants
    Dr Summerton get off your high horse and try to walk in the shoes of today's junior doctors you will find it very different from the 70's when you trained. Many more interventions available and more IT hoops to jump through.
    I really am ashamed to call you a colleague

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  • Oh, sure, chat about it all with government and that should fix the problem. Negotiate with Jeremy Hunt, influenced by Letwin, Tory Strategist who recommends the NHS be abolished? I'm a GP now 60y but still doing 2 days a week because we cannot find a replacement for the previous senior partner, let alone me. But collecting pension and income pushes me into the income bracket where I lose personal allowance and therefore effectively would pay 60% tax. The work is very hard, with a high risk of complaint fuelled by government stoked expectation. I haven't had resilience training. Hard work + high risk is entirely incompatible with a 60% tax take; no wonder doctors of my vintage leave asap. I shall soon. I have had young aspirants attach to the practice to sample GP work and their possible future; my advice has been not with a barge pole. Anything but medicine unless you relish being administered by bureaucrats and sly/thieving politicians. Vocation is a much abused term by those seeking to manipulate, IMHO.

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