All in this together….or not?

I have been asked to write something about ‘why I became a doctor’. The best answer I can give to that question is simple and it reminds me of a line from Animal Farm; “it was not for this that she and all the other animals had hoped and toiled…such were her thoughts, though she lacked the words to express them”.

It was not for this.

Should I expand? I think I am expected to give you a heartfelt story about who I am and why I am here. I’m not sure I can be that person. The idea of course is not far fetched. Perhaps a window into my background could strike a chord with one, or many. Perhaps that would bols
ter support.

The thing is though; this isn’t the X Factor.

Don’t get me wrong; I have a story, but I think in reality everybody does. My patients have stories. Every single one of them has come down a path that’s a little bit different from the patient that left the bed before them. I’ve looked after British men who fought in World War II, I’ve looked after a man who had been forced to flee nazi invasion in Poland and I’ve looked after a man from Germany’s Luftwaffe who made a new life for himself here after his aircraft fell out of the sky in Scotland. I’ve looked after a lady who was a scullery maid when children were not given the chance to be children. I’ve looked after top class athletes who found their entire world destroyed suddenly by accidents. I’ve looked after people with money and status, people whose names might be on the pages of a magazine and I’ve looked after people who came with no known name and no next of kin.

We all have our own stories. When I stand beside my patients and ask them to trust the care I will give them however, it is what we have in common that matters. A consultant once told me that the beauty of a nationalised health service was not just that it is a healthcare system that is free at the point of use for everyone, the beauty of the NHS is that we were all in it together. It does’t matter if you are a doctor, a nurse, a porter, a chief executive officer, a policy advisor in the department of health or a volunteer for the league of friends cafe; you are also a patient. We are all in this together and if that truth fails, things will fall apart.

Junior doctors have been lied to and lied about. The proposed contract will not help the NHS and it will not improve services. There is no evidence linking the new contract to safety, improved mortality or improved staff performance. Government leadership has consistently pitted itself against junior doctors and my worst fear is not that I will get a pay cut, but that they are already no longer ‘in’ this with us, that they are no longer ‘in’ this with you.

Junior doctors cannot bow down to the threat of imposition for one reason and one reason only; we are all in this together and honestly, we need all the help we can get…because if we fail, things will fall apart.



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