Normally the waiting room would be packed with a diverse group of patients, the air filled with the numerous languages spoken in the area, phones ringing and the odd cough or splutter.
But today, Dr Deborah Colvin, a GP in Hackney and chair of City and Hackney LMC, is standing in her empty waiting room waiting to explain to patients coming through the door why only urgent work will be carried out today.
Her whole practice – 10 doctors serving 12,000 patients- support the day of action, even though she said it is not likely to affect patients directly.
She says: ‘If we can stand up and get the Government to listen then we can stand up for other staff, nurses, other people in the NHS. I feel very strongly that the Government shouldn’t be taking money from them.’
‘It’s exactly the same as when we have a study day.’ she said ‘It’s symbolic. We’re saying ‘enough is enough; you’re not listening to us’.
She is angry with the Government for reneging on the 2008 agreement, which produces a £2 billion a year surplus and is a ‘good deal’ for taxpayers.
‘What makes me angry is the unfairness of it, the breaking of trust. If they don’t honour an agreement made four years ago, what’s going to happen in another three years?’
Dr Colvin said she is disappointed by the fact the majority of GPs did not choose to take industrial action, as standing up for doctors could also set a precedent for protecting the rights of all NHS workers.
She said: ‘It’s really sad. A lot of doctors have said that they’re worried the public will see it as doctors being greedy and we won’t be able to get our message across of what it’s about.’
This political move, which she sees as a ‘tax on doctors’, reflects the Government’s willingness to tax a group of people who can be vilified for withdrawing their labour.
‘We can’t ever put the patient in danger and the Government seizes on that. If we do anything they can say “You’re not putting patients first’ which is outrageous.”‘
‘It was bankers that caused this mess, the banks have been given billions of pounds by the taxpayer and a lot of that has gone straight back into bankers’ pockets and hasn’t come to the public.
‘They say we’re all in this together but really we’re in it and they’re not and their banking friends aren’t. It makes me so angry.’