Phil is usually apathetic about political protest, but the plight of junior doctors has moved him
Time for marching orders
Every week, on a Monday night, I walk up these stairs, sit at this desk, drink this great big glass of Grant's, and stare at this blank screen in front of me now. Then I try to think of something to write; to make you laugh, to make you think, to make you outraged. I don't care which.
Sometimes, when the screen is still blank at 2am, I wonder what I am doing it for.
I'm a normal bloke. That's my real name at the top of this column and I really am a full-time GP. I'm not doing this for fame or fortune. The editor of Pulse will, I am sure, agree I am not going to retire on what they pay me. As for fame, three separate complaints to the GMC convinced me that quiet anonymity is an attractive option.
So why do I do it? Because I love my job, I care about what I'm doing on a daily basis, I think my patients need decent, effective healthcare and our NHS, sick and moribund though it is, needs our support.
That's why this column is about MMC (Modernising Medical Careers). MMC is a Government-initiated scheme that is supposed to be rejuvenating the way junior doctors' careers are organised, and MTAS is the internet-based job application program. It has failed spectacularly, in the same way every Government-initiated IT project has failed. Why don't they ever learn?
Currently, thousands of our junior colleagues are under the harrow. The application process was a joke; young doctors only a year or two after qualification were forced to choose their career paths now, long before they might be expected to know what they were good at or cared most about, and then to submit applications on crappy internet forms with no space for excellence or experience but instead focused on politically correct waffle that gave no idea of the candidate's true abilities.
Then the IT project suffered its inevitable catastrophic failure. Applications lost, gifted applicants mysteriously ignored, interviews offered for specialties not even applied for, multiple interviews at both ends
of the country offered on the
same day, endless stupidity and incompetence and thousands of our junior colleagues left hanging, bereft, hopeless, unsupported, despairing; and all the phone lines of course constantly engaged.
These are our registrars and our future partners, and they are being royally shafted, humiliated and ignored. Thousands of these brilliant young people are being forced, debt-ridden, out of the profession to which they dedicated themselves, just like you and I did. The woman who might one day have fixed your hip, the bloke who in a decade or two might sort out your mam's cardiomyopathy, are on the verge of being forced to go into catering. We can't afford to lose them. The cost of their training alone is astronomical. The human cost, for them and for us and for the people they would have helped, is beyond measure. This is disgusting, obscene, shameful.
What can we do about this fiasco? Maybe not a lot, given the history of political protest in this country. My great-grandfather was instrumental in organising the Jarrow March, and that achieved frankly bugger all in the long run. Maybe that's why I've been so apathetic in the past, but everyone has their breaking point, and I've reached mine.
Write to your MP. Write to the papers. Tell whoever will listen. Register your disapproval on the links on www.remedyuk.org. Let those shameful Uncle Toms in our profession who are the authors of this travesty (and it's easy to find out who they are) know what you feel about their treachery – above all, join us on the march in London on 17 March. The Ides of March, near enough. I'll be there. Help us stick the knife in where it hurts.
Dr Phil Peverley is a GP in Sunderland and PPA and MJA Columnist of the Year