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CAMHS won't see you now

The post-strike fallout

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Two things struck me in the post junior doctors strike fallout.

I did sod all to help

First, there was that nice letter from Mr Hunt thanking NHS staff for keeping services running during the industrial action. Well, Jezza, I think you should know that, personally, I did sod all to help. Even if I’d wanted to, and I didn’t, I couldn’t have blocked appointments to cope with a surge in demand. How could I, when, thanks to your own policies, workload and recruitment headaches mean I’m booked up about a year ahead, like just about every other GP I know?

That aside, I couldn’t help but notice the staff Mr Hunt wanted to pay tribute to included, ‘Thousands of dedicated nurses, doctors, paramedics, GPs…’ That’s right. Doctors and GPs. We thought we were medically qualified when in fact we’ve just been locked in some endless Youth Opportunities Scheme.

Second, there was the revelation that A&Es up and down the land were quiet and functional during the strike - a fact I can confirm given that, as duty doctor, I was able to get people at the hospital end to pick up phones, discuss patients, provide information and accept urgent admissions without me having to threaten physical violence. And that’s very interesting. Because it means the worried well/slightly ill were suddenly, without detriment to themselves, able to steer clear of health services on the basis that those health services were no longer perceived to be available.

In other words, the unprecedented emergency walk-out turned into a massive behavioural sciences experiment proving, as if we didn’t know already, that ‘illness threshold’ is a function of service provision.

And the converse of that, of course, is that the pursuit of policies such as 8 to 8, 7/7 will simply generate work, given that work will always expand to fill the space available. Or, if you’d rather, nature abhors a vacuum. Though if that is the case, then why hasn’t Jezza’s head imploded?

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. You can follow him on Twitter @DocCopperfield 


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Readers' comments (11)

  • Excellent article. Fully agree the point about why A&E was mysteriously quieter up and down the country. I wonder if anyone in Government will take note. Thought not.....

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  • The solution to the NHS crisis is in the article. Sadly no politician will have the guts to tell the public the unpalatable truth until it is too late

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  • How do you know that peoples health was not adversely affected by people not seeking medical attention?

    The only way would be to audit health outcomes.

    I would expect a knee jerk conclusion like this from Hunt, but not from a medical colleague.

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  • 6.54pm
    Copperfield says that because the Tory press would have been frothing at the mouth if they'd found a story of adverse patient outcome

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  • Samantha Gittins is absolutely right - and it is interesting that no such stories surfaced. I am sure that it wasn't for lack of enthusiastic digging on the part of the Daily Mail and others.

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  • The strike appears to have achieved precisely zilch in progressing the junior's cause; time to either accept Hunt has won, or resign and move on?

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  • @Samantha Gittins & Michael Betterton

    Although what you are saying about the Tory press is true it does not make it right, nor does it make it right to do the opposite and claim opinion to be fact.

    Do not lower your standards of reasoning and ability to question, otherwise we as a profession will be no better than the popular press.

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  • Vinci Ho

    You see, things are not really what they seem and one day of politics has become far , far too long last few days.
    After seeing through LFC's triumph on Thursday night in Europe and reaching another European Final , I wasn't too bothered to stay up late to follow live coverage of the local /Scottish Parliament elections (which I normally would do and walk like a zombie next day at work!) . While so much spin on the media was about the ex-London mayor's outrageous anti-Semitic remarks, my prediction was the result was very much a status quo , repeat of what was reflected in the general election last year.
    Kind of right but also wrong. Feedbacks from various party next morning(Friday , yesterday ) were extraordinarily 'good' ; everybody had a good night !!!
    Good- because Labour's loss in seat was less than predicted(but after last year, we know the media pre-election poll could be so crap anyway )So , it was good because only left instead of both sides of your face was slapped!
    Good- because Conservative has become the biggest opposition party in Scotland but SNP still got times two the number of your seats! Feel good factor was energising through Mr Cameron's body merely because a 'day of dread' turned out to be a relatively normal day.
    Still good- Lib Dem was winning some seats marking a road to revival. Yes, the 'good' spirit of something was better than nothing.Wow!
    Really , United Kingdom had virtually fragmented into a Republic of Britain with radical domination in various parts of the country , certainly 'no one size fits all'. (a bit of Westeros in Game of Thrones). As Laura Kuenssberg alluded , 'good' in politics is really about actually winning things out of your enemy's territory .
    Obama recently said ,''Seek out people who don't agree with you. That will teach you to compromise.
    Compromise does not mean surrendering what you believe." But to me , 'compromise' is only one of the tactics in order to win . Win is still the goal. Pretty confident our young colleagues understand this.
    The real breakthrough in this election was on Ruth Davidson , Scottish leader of Conservatives , and Sadiq Khan,the first Muslim Labour Mayor of London . The former simply does not look like a Tory MP and the latter was clever enough to stay well clear of his party leader and stick to practicality in his policies.
    Agreed again with Laura Kuenssberg that the lesson to the traditionally 'nasty' Tory Party was the stark contrast between two entirely different approaches in Scotland and London to convince and persuade people in believing what you are selling in politics. For that , Agent Hunt was in the same league of Zac Goldsmith who failed badly by a 'fear' strategy .( It turned out the perception of racism in this Tory campaign was more costly than anti-Semitism in Labour Party ) Saying the right thing in the right time at the right place , Khan said ,''politics of fear is not welcome in our city". And I would say 'in our country' as well.
    I stick to my comment that this government showing all signs of weakness and typically made a major U-turn on full academisation of all schools , announcing that right in the middle of election. 'Poor' education secretary had to swallow her pride and own policy on behalf of the government in front of camera but the embarrassment was at least minimised by deliberately setting the date.
    Yes, one argue seven days NHS was in the manifesto and hence biblical as far as the Tories are concerned but politics is all about interpretations. People 'like' underdogs which were well battered by 'Giants' . In a way , both Davidson and Khan were underdogs.

    'power resides where men believe it resides. No more and no less.It is a trick , a shadow on the wall , yet a shadow can kill.And oft times ,a very small man can cast a very large shadow .' Game of Thrones

    This is a long battle , young Padawans, there is everything to fight for and serve for freedom from fear .......

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  • Vinci Ho

    Congratulate Leicester City Football Club !!!!

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  • Another bullseye blog. Cheers.

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From: Copperfield

Dr Tony Copperfield is a jobbing GP in Essex with more than a few chips on his shoulder