Well, it’s come and gone and the world hasn’t ended, much to Mr Hunt’s dismay I expect.
Hunt could spin the outcome to suggest that low attendance at casualty departments means we don’t need so many doctors
Like a lot of these ‘oh my God we’re all going to die’ scenarios fed to us by certain factions of the national press (the millennium bug was another good example of a non-event) the awful predications the junior doctors’ strike would lead to patients dropping like flies didn’t materialise.
The streets were not littered with the dead and dying unable to get medical attention from one of those selfish, greedy doctors the brave Mr Hunt is bravely confronting on behalf of the ‘hard-working families’ of this country. (Am I alone in wanting to perform an un-anaesthetised laryngectomy on every MP who utters that trite phrase?)
No, contrary to the scare mongers, it seems A&E departments in many parts of the country were quieter than ever. Maybe it was the helpful advice from the Government to ‘only use A&E departments in a medical emergency’ during the doctors’ strike (damn, I bet all those kids whose parents had planned birthday parties in the waiting room of casualty departments were disappointed).
Some papers were reporting that going to A&E during the strike would be ‘better’ than on a normal day as consultants were running it.
Really? Apart from trauma and casualty consultants how many emergencies do the public think senior doctors deal with on a daily basis?
It always amazes me how little the non-medical press and public understand about the different roles of consultants and junior doctors. Would you really want a consultant leading your cardiac arrest, who last wielded a defibrillator in anger when David Cameron was still abusing dead pigs?
It’s a bit like Joe Public thinking you have to be super intelligent to be a ‘brain surgeon’. It’s a good job they didn’t see these wonderful surgeons as medical students. Certainly drinking a pint of lager out of a condom, bollock-naked in front of a baying crowd in the student bar takes skill, but not necessarily the skills most people would associate with neurosurgery.
So it looks like Hunt’s bet that the strike would turn the public against junior doctors didn’t pay off. What will his next move be? Like a cornered rat he could go for the jugular and spin the outcome to suggest that low attendance at casualty departments when the juniors were away means we don’t need so many doctors.
Watch this space.
Dr David Turner is a GP in west London