It goes without saying that I’m in favour of the junior doctors’ strike action. Obviously, we all anticipate it leaving Mr Hunt with a big, fat, bloody nose – one which, after a 14-hour-wait in casualty, he’ll hopefully have treated by an urgently drafted-in, long-retired proctologist whose eyesight is so poor or sense of revenge so acute that he’ll end up cauterising the wrong orifice.
But I do take issue with two things. First, the juniors’ decision to take two of the three strike days on a Tuesday – my day duty, which is pretty inconsiderate. And second, the GPC’s assertion that the action won’t lead to any discernible change to our workload. Yeah, right.
The only way to really ensure that the junior’s strike has maximum impact would be for us GPs to decide to strike too
The fact is that, even at the best of times, patients are world beaters at turning someone else’s problem into ours. And this isn’t the best of times. So I have no doubt whatsoever that, over the course of the three strike days, we’ll face various levels of hassle. From, ‘How will I get a replacement outpatient appointment given that the secretary never answers the phone?’, through, ‘Who’s going to prescribe my powerful drugs/monitor my bloods while I wait for them to give me another slot?’ to ‘I think I’m having a heart attack/have broken my leg/am vomiting blood and would normally have gone straight to A&E but under the circumstances thought I should check with you first, doctor.’
Given that the whole purpose of a strike is to exert leverage through inconvenience, I should simply grab the opportunity to fulfil the lifelong dream of being able to tell patients, with utter conviction and justification, to sod off. That’s not entirely straightforward, though, as I suspect the defence bodies will warn us.
In fact, the only way to really ensure that the junior’s strike has maximum impact would be for us GPs to decide to strike too, once we’ve clarified the ‘What do we want, when do we want it?’ side of things, and checked that we do have adequate testosterone storage vessels for the fight. In which case, on reflection, Tuesdays are good for me.
Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. You can follow him on Twitter @DocCopperfield