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Independents' Day

'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)

  • To John Mcdonald

    Thank you. It is refreshing to hear a GP from your generation supporting our colleagues and recognising the pros and cons of long hours instead of pretending it is a model we should follow.
    As others have pointed out, Nick Summerton was obviously trying to be inflammatory. Maybe he thinks he is the Katie Hopkins of the medical world.

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  • UK Doctors are Deprofesionalised they don't regulate themselves they don't decide their own CME. They are only given a year between being appraised , they have to be revalitaed and be on performance listings , and the Goverment has a monopoly system on their renumeration as the NHS is the only customer effectively I work in Ireland and the U.K. GPS are the laughing stock of GPS worldwide - go on strike and try to reverse these restrictions

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  • There are so many things wrong with this rant that I don't even know where to start. Sorry but I won't call it an article. It's poorly written, irrational and presents personal opinions without any tangible evidence.

    How do you define professionalism and what makes striking for your rights unprofessional? We were not enlightened!

    There's an issue of trust between the BMA and the DOH. Understatement of the year and btw we are talking about Drs and Junior Drs here, not just the BMA.

    The issues with discharge summaries have variable and wide ranging factors. It's over simplistic, derogatory and inflammatory to blame it on junior Drs attitude. There was no need for it.

    Its junior Drs who gave to deal with their new contract and conditions not us. It's unjust for us to judge them with our tainted glasses.

    The argument that the good or bad old days should be a benchmark for professionalism or best behaviour is illogical. It's the same as saying that the child abuse or domestic abuse should be allowed as it used to happen in the good old days.

    Frankly, I am appalled that the Pulse can publish such a poor piece of writing. I can also write a similar disjointed piece in Govts favour. Would you publish it?

    Dear sir,you should have been allowed to keep your inglorious opinions into the deepest and darkest confines of your brain rather than tormenting so many of your colleagues.

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  • Retired and since unthreatened by GMC, but still anonymous. Why? Because the GMC has huge uncontrolled power. That power comes from our obligatory fees which I remember started at £5 a year 40 some years ago. How was it funded before this? We should all stop paying the GMC levy and make this a Government responsibility. The strike? I support it as I did 40 years ago. Dr Sommerton is out of touch.

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  • I used to work 100-120 hrs per week also and worked in GP in the UK until about 2 years ago. I now work abroad and will not be returning. If you are negotiating with a party that refuses to negotiate you really have only the alternatives of strike or leave.

    From the Government's pointof view, theyshould consider that youcan control 2 out of 3 parameters in any commodity. They are 2 of price, quality and quantity. They always try to clumsily control all three in which case the decision as to which one gives is left to random events with a mixture of all three. I suspect they have already lost too many staff to sustain the service with this dispute.

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  • OK. I believe that you are reaching the end of your career and possibly want to please somebody higher ups to ensure to get a Quango post...Otherwise why do you have to preach?

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  • This talk of 100 hour weeks back in my day is getting stale. I did hundred hour weeks only 5 years ago. Well within the time of the EWTD. Basically I wasn't rotered to do them, I wasn't paid to do them, I just did them. I was newly qualified naive and possibly suffering from Stockholm syndrome. Difference is I had no free onsite accommodation, no available senior cover on the wards helping me out it was total disaster. These days the doctors offices are all but gone too therefore having to write those discharge summaries with patients and relatives over your shoulder accusing you of messing around of the Internet whilst their relatives need this that or the other thing. It saddens me that these experiences are still common because at the end of the day their simply isn't enough available staff to provide safe cover. Removing safeguards for working hours will make the situation worse. Doctors will continue to work long hours, not longer hours as they already do that. The difference is they'll get paid even less for them. I would challenge Dr Summerton to accept those Terms and conditions for himself. If not strike what should they do? Leave the profession all together? You'll soon have no discharge summaries to read.

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  • Of course Dr Summerton is entitled to his opinion but so are all the junior docs who felt strong enough to take strike action when confronted by an intransigent government with an alternative agenda.I remember thinking while toiling away as a resident that if the taxpayers had to pay me an hourly rate for each hour I worked rather than a fraction then collectively the junior docs alone could have caused a major financial crisis in the country.Then came the EWTD and the gradual and total emasculation(and I don't mean this in the gender sense) together with the de-professionalisation of medical practitioners especially within the secondary care setting, combined with the supermarket type managerial hierarchies installed to make hospitals competitive and "more productive" that anyone who could think for themselves should have been able to see that the "perfect storm" had been created.This is clearly a recipe that was all about turning junior docs,in combination with the current revolving door policy of getting patients out of hospital as soon as possible to complement the continual shrinkage of bed numbers,into controllable automatons.Unfortunately it is still costing too much money and junior doctors are easy target when combined with weak leadership from the BMA RCGP and increasing hostility from the GMC.So I say as one old doctor to a lot of young doctors-"more power to your elbow".Unless your senior colleagues decide to man the barricades you are the only thing left between the continuance and the end of the Health Service as we know it.

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