I mean, what is the point? Just what is the sodding point of a strike that doesn’t inconvenience anybody? We’re planning to withdraw our labour on June 21, a day that will go down in infamy.
Except that it won’t, because we aren’t. We’ll all turn up at the office as usual like good little soldiers and spend the entire day scratching our arses. We’ll be so bored that Mrs Incopad’s repeat prescription update for tolterodine might find itself re-defined as an ‘urgent’ problem, rather than ‘a matter of urgency’, just so we can do something, anything, to pass the time.
As luck would have it I shall be out of the country on The Day, but I’ll be checking the news bulletins and Twitter feeds for reports of patients rioting in the streets because they’ll have to wait an extra day to see a dermatologist to secure regular supplies of E45 for life. As if. They’ve waited months already, what’s another day?
Considering that it’s taken forty years to organise a strike, we could at least have done it properly. Taken a week off, barricaded the hospital doorways, let the homeopaths, witch doctors, nutritionists and crystal healers have the healthcare arena to themselves for a few days to see how patients got on without us. If this thing called the Doctor-Patient Relationship actually exists then frankly we’re going through a bad patch. If our patients don’t feel able to support us when we’re being so obviously shafted then it’s time for us to go home to Mother for a little while to cool off.
But if it is only going to be a day, at least bugger off out of there. Hit the golf courses en masse, even if you don’t play golf. Better still, particularly if you don’t play golf, in the name of comedic irony. Book every decent restaurant table in town for lunch. If you’re within a hundred miles of the coast, it’s Road Trip time, with a crate of beer, a bottle of champagne and a picnic hamper from Waitrose strapped to the boot of an open topped sports car with your significant other in the passenger seat.
Get out there and flaunt it. Because we’re worth every bloody penny we get. And it is a disgrace that the youngsters among you will soon be paying a much higher proportion of your income into a pension plan no better than the scheme that the civil servants who run the Department of Health get for much much less.
It’s a disgrace that the spin doctors are claiming that the Government can’t afford a pension scheme that, if anything, is on the credit side of cost neutral, not the debit. It’s a disgrace that they’re welshing on an agreement less than five years old.
You didn’t spend long summer evenings poring over school work while everyone else was out on the town, long nights trolling up and down hospital corridors from ward to ward while all your mates were out clubbing and every other bloody weekend on call handling ‘urgent’ calls about snotty nosed toddlers with earache, just so that, when the time came to show a little muscle, you cowered in your consulting room from 8am to 6.30pm surrounded by sodding paperwork.
Burn the sodding paperwork; burn the appraisal folders full of certificates from education meetings that you went to but can’t remember a bloody thing about, burn the requests for medical information from diet clubs, actors’ guilds and ballet schools that can’t pay / won’t pay because they’re a ‘good cause’. Burn as many copies of the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, the Times, the Express and any other mainstream rag that trots out the tired old ‘GPs on £250K strike over money’ line as you can lay hands upon. In fact, use some of your disposable GANFYD money to buy extra copies, simply to burn them too.
And dance naked around the flames. On the beach at sunset. Consider all the sore throats, tickly coughs, hay fever eyes and heartsinks moaning about their funny turns that you’ve missed hearing about in arse-aching detail. And for that fleeting moment, allow yourselves to think, ‘Bollocks to ‘em.’
Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org