This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

pulse june2020 80x101px
Read the latest issue online

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

Rate this article  (1.46 average user rating)

Click to rate

  • 1 star out of 5
  • 2 stars out of 5
  • 3 stars out of 5
  • 4 stars out of 5
  • 5 stars out of 5

0 out of 5 stars

Readers' comments (125)

  • Not NICE when the government doesn't listen or hold farcical talks and consultations.
    A person working as an Advisor should know better because our colleague seems to be hinting that nobody has tried to have a conversation with the government.
    A talk is a two way conversation between parties willing to listen and consider each others views. It's not Hamlet's monologue which Jeremy Hunt indulges in revelling at the sound of his own golden voice.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • You care for your patients - congratulations. Junior doctors are being sweated as an asset as though they were a piece of equipment.
    I too believe in a 7 day NHS for acute and urgent care. I do not believe there is any demand or justification for routine Sunday care we are not QVC or Amazon who don't deliver on a Sunday anyway.
    There will be 1 outcome if Jhunt has his way because there is no funding increase and all is to be done within the pay envelope the massaged statistics will change to a flattened curve but no peaks and also no troughs.
    You appear to be a supporter of constructive engagement - not always historically on the side of the Angels.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Summer tone should shut up in winter!!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I don't think it is professional to work in an environment where you cannot deliver a minimum standard of work. Tirdness, lack of support, understaffed.
    This is partly what the strike is about
    The other part is about pay. To continue to get high quality students and for young people to give up so much of their time, not just at work but all the studying, the pay should be good.
    If the government is allowed to continue making doctors pay and condidtions worsen then the NHS will fail in a few years anyway.
    The doctors could choose not to strike, but to just apply for work abroad, so striking is actually the more honourable thing to do in my opinion.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • When one has exhausted all else striking is the only thing one can do, apart from retirement and walking away.

    One of the things that we really have to understand is that one cannot expect ongoing strikes to maintain public support. If GPs eventually decide to carry out some form of industrial action we have to accept that we may not get public support. That should not stop us doing it. Public support, although nice, is not essential.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • What is this crap I keep hearing about public support this and public support that??? The public will either love us or hate us simply because of preconceived ideas ( rarely the correct ones ). A doctor should be like this or like that. Two fingers mate. The public will never understand our complicated profession so worrying about their support is pointless. They will back us fully when we become a very expensive commodity.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Nick - I admire your balls to come back on here, in spite of the swell of opinion against you. And I think everyone is entitled to their own views about the right to strike or not.

    But you didn't just do that. You used examples of poor discharge summaries as "couldn't be bothered" and questioned their professionalism. There is no evidence of these views and that is why there has been such strength of feeling against you.

    My husband called you the "Katie Hopkins" of general practice and I feel he is right.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I think there should be a 7 day GP service in East Yorkshire and I'm entitled to my opinion.

    Why don't you give the patients your home phone number and get your wife to answer the phone at night, like in the "good old days"???

    Some GPs these days have an "I can't be bothered attitude" to 24hr care. They can't even be bothered to get up in the night to certify the dead. Instead, they hide behind the 2004 contract and some "OOH opt out" rubbish - simply telling patients to ring 111 etc etc.

    Come on Nick, what's your number 01... ......

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Such a divisive comment Many of us worked those long hours in 70's but we had a team 'the firm' and support The technology was less , interventions less, demographics different and never even thought about maybe being sued or having complaint. Life as JD far worse now from my knowledge of their working lives and I salute them for having the guts to take on this Tory Gvt and put safety patients and their own sanity be4 the unsafe contract JH wants. They are professionals in my mind without doubt and just because thought that being a doctor means vocation so can take any s''t thrown at you and that having a decent life outside of medicine is not allowed needs to be thrown out asap. We deserve respect as a profession and remuneration and terns and conditions which equate to the level of intelligence of profession If this attitude to profession doesn't happen soon in way Gvt relate to doctors more and more will vote with feet and leave or reject medicine as career If Dr NS this what u want then you have my deepest sympathies for u are a dinosaur who part of the historical maltreatment of doctors

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Ridiculous comment. Considering these junior doctors aren't professionals and can't be bothered to do their job properly they've done a bloody good job of organising industrial action and dealing with the media.

    I can't stand the "good old days" crowd, do my head in with their patronising rose tinted nonsense.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • @|Anonymous | Sessional/Locum GP|13 Jan 2016 12:40pm

    No-one pays me to say anything. I have my own views.

    I do not think people who disagree with me are stupid, they just see things differently. I find reading others' views interesting and sometimes informative, though not always.

    I don't understand why you consider my posting as 'emotional blackmail'- it certainly wasn't intended that way.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • At least Dr Summerton put his name to his post , anyone can argue his point of view if their own differ but most above commented failed to do so. Its unprofessional. Some posts are frankly rude.
    Something is very wrong when medical profession decided to protest by striking!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Dr. Summerton and all the people who object to junior doctors strike can they please provide solution on what our junior colleagues should have done instead of striking ? They have entered in dialogue with Government, involved ACAS. When Government does not want to listen for fulfillment of their own idiosyncrasies, they were left only with one option to strike. It's Mr. HUNT WHO HAS FORCED THESE JUNIORS TO GO ON STRIKE. IF ANYONE IS TO BE BLAMED BLAME HIM. If they really want to create 7 day NHS then they have to invest in it. Don't ask GP and doctors to sacrifice and do more for less. I am all for 7 day NHS if there are enough doctors and nurses to run 7 day service. With current policies and Minister Like Mr Burt saying he is not bothered whether there are any takers for Sunday appointment, but we should still offer Sunday appointment.It only shows that all they care about is votes to show public that they have fulfilled their election promises.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I rarely disagree with everything a colleague has to say, but I do here.
    I trained in the bad old days -we didn't have dialogue, we did as we were told, and the system made us feel grateful for it. Excellent doctors left, often not in a good way because of the stress, and we became accustomed to an abusive system, which did our social and mental health no good whatsoever.
    Female doctors were told their need for study leave was not as important as the men's, and made to cover their absences because no one wanted to pay for locums.
    We grew up to be the GP's who voted in what we knew was a really bad contract, because the government threatened the imposition of a worse contract on us and we caved in.
    I do not want Junior doctors to have my experience of medicine or accept bad change or bullying so easily. I think the Junior Doctors organising the action and the strike have shown great maturity, professionalism, unity , and a refreshingly light touch in the way they have handled the politics and the media.
    We should learn from them rather than wish on them our own mistakes.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I am really disappointed that such an ill-informed piece has been published. Of course the author is entitled to his opinion. However, I would have thought any professional wishing to publish such a piece would do so with some respect for their colleagues and the facts. I am all for balanced debate, but as a junior doctor myself I find this offensive, and am amazed that the editorial team saw fit to publish it.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Our disunity has long been exploited by the DOH and this dishonest regime is little different from the previous ones.
    The NHS sadly is being demolished because its deemed no longer affordable.Cowardice has long prevented government admitting this so they prevaricate and discredit us by all means possible and hope perhaps for a miracle.
    No wonder huge numbers of Junior doctors (including GPs) are emigrating. What a terrible waste.
    Its great to see the gallant junior doctors fight back and avidly oppose this wickedness and I do hope the GPC will do the same.
    GP Partner North London.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Suspect this GP is a plant - not come across a single doctor GP or otherwise who agrees with his view. We used to send children up chimneys but we now know better?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I also did the horrendous old days (120h a week, up to 19 days in a row) and I don't remember any bloody dialogue! I remember being terrified of making a mistake (when I was awake enough to be terrified) and being routinely belittled and criticised by senior colleagues when I was so tired I could barely stand.
    I totally support the current juniors in trying to prevent a return to the bad old days. It was horrifically dangerous, and any doctor who says otherwise is guilty of either rose-tinted memory fabrication, or indefensible 'we did so you should too' arrogance.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The reason we still have armies is that talking doesn't always work.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • This comment has been moderated

  • 9:53 agree
    I'm not so old as NS but was junior in the early 90s. There were plenty of people not doing discharge summaries then, because of sheer pressure of work and exhaustion. I know because I used to supplement by income by doing them as a favour for exhausted colleagues on my nights off on a 1:3 rota. 50p per summary or £1 if needed for next day. Could do 30-50 a night. Helped to pay off the debts. I respect the juniors and support their strike. I remember being told by my consultant that the 'on-call facilities' for my 1:4 paeds job was to sleep on the floor in her office, but that I should really be too busy to sleep on a 28 hour shift. Wish we had had a strike back then

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

View results 10 results per page20 results per page50 results per page

Have your say