Those were the days – and doctor trade unionists desperately want to have them back


Just look at them – those ‘industry leaders’, those trade union spokespeople. They are hell-bent on piling misery upon misery for us, the people, who will have to pay their bills and who will have to cope when their trade union members refuse to do their work. And would you believe it: for some it’s not even about more money! 

There are the HGV trade association bosses, there’s their trade union Unite and there are the GPs and their trade unions BMA and Royal College of General Practitioners to which hospital trust bosses are adding their voice. They all regard us, the people, who pay for their demands and their actions, as irrelevancy. They seem to be astoundingly naive because they seem to assume that we peasants will rise and demand that our government ‘do something’ when they make their dire threats in public. After all, it’s about Christmas, about keeping the supermarket shelves filled, about keeping well, about not having to see the doctor, not needing to go to hospital, isn’t it – so why should we plebs not rise up?

There’s one added twist to this state of affairs: fuel is poured onto the fire thanks to social media. Let’s look at the doctors and the NHS. It’s a bit confusing because on the one hand Mr Javid said to be preparing new powers to seize control of poorly performing hospitals with the insistence that ministers cannot just “throw cash” at the NHS.” (link, paywalled) while on the other hand he’s going to shell out £250m, to “improve access to doctors in England this winter”. For that extra money they must offer

“[…] an in-person appointment unless there are “good clinical reasons” not to do so.The funding is dependent on surgeries hitting appointment targets. Those that fail to do so will be named and shamed and face financial penalties.” (link, paywalled)

More money for box-ticking: so far so business as usual. However, there’s that former Health Secretary, a certain Mr Hunt MP, who took to social media and tweeted that this wasn’t enough. He wants an inquiry so that government can find out how many doctors to train. Does Mr Hunt not read the papers? For weeks they’ve been full of the dire situation for patients, of wails from doctors’ trade unions about the lack of GPs. Clearly, once in government the minds of former and current ministers cannot conceive that ordinary people, even highly trained ones like doctors, know what they’re talking about. Hunt’s tweet though takes the proverbial:

““This is a burnt-out workforce running on empty because of a massive mismatch between supply and demand. The only thing that will convince [GPs] not to continue retiring or opting for part-time hours in droves is a clear plan to end the unsustainable pressure they face,” he wrote.” (link, paywalled)

Shall we talk about the unbearable pressure we, the ordinary people face? Shall we talk about the pressure on families in Cornwall where their Hospital trust “has asked families to care for their elderly relatives at home as they try to clear medically fit patients stuck in beds because of a lack of social care in the community.” (link, paywalled)? Is it back to the unspeakable attitude of ‘blame the elderly bed-blockers’ when blame ought to be put on all those social care providers who can’t find places for them? They found those places fast enough last year when those elderly were ‘de-canted’ in super-quick time to care homes, to ‘clear the NHS decks’ for covid! We’ve not forgotten that they died like flies in those homes.

Shall we talk about the pressure on those who are ill, who are already on waiting lists, who are now warned by health bosses that, thanks to those ever increasing waiting lists, hospital doctors will soon only be able to treat ‘critically ill cases’? Shall we talk about the pressure on sick people which another doctor evoked? The president of the Society for Acute Medicine, Dr Tim Cooksley, clearly had seen that Hunt tweet when he said:

“We are moving further away from an NHS that can provide the best possible care to all who need it promptly and closer to one which can only focus on those most critically unwell. Even then it is with a threadbare workforce that has been run into the ground and there is widespread concern about winter given the NHS was in a weak position heading into the pandemic and is now rebuilding on the back foot.” (link, paywalled)

So the NHS workforce is threadbare, is it? Are the patients, sick with serious illnesses from cancer to heart disease, are their families not ‘burnt out and threadbare’, having had to cope without receiving proper medical treatment ever since Lockdown 2020? 

But never mind all that – here’s news from that august trade union of GPs, the Royal College of General Practitioners. Their annual conference opened yesterday in Liverpool and they’re properly miffed because Mr Javid had to cancel his appearance and won’t even address them via video link. Oh dear. And here’s what Dr Martin Marshall, chairman of the college, had to say. He bemoaned the “malicious criticism” of GPs by politicians and media over face-to-face care, that it was “demoralising and indefensible”, that ‘hard-working GPs didn’t deserve this ‘abuse’ (link, paywalled). And here comes the grandiose gesture, the veiled hint that enough isn’t enough:

“Commenting on Javid’s proposals, he added: “The so-called support package for general practice in England announced this morning is most definitely not the answer to the challenges that we face in providing high quality care for our patients. Calling today’s announcement a missed opportunity would be the understatement of the century.” (link, paywalled)

I’ll disregard that snippet about ‘providing high-quality care’, given that this is now only going to be made available to the critically ill, not to the rest of us. But perhaps he has a point? After all, see what this ‘package’, these cool extra £250m of our money, are going to pay for:

“The £250 million investment will fund locums and support for GPs from other professionals, such as physiotherapists and podiatrists. The NHS said GP practices must “respect preferences for face-to-face care unless there are good clinical reasons to the contrary”. (link, paywalled)

So it’s not all going to GPs but to ‘other professionals’ … hm. Mind you, I’m sure doctors will always find ‘good clinical reasons’ for not seeing patients face-to-face, especially not given another outcry, this time from Dr Richard Vautrey, chairman of the GP Committee of that other doctor’s trade union, the BMA who said:

“We cannot go back to over-crowded waiting rooms with sick and vulnerable patients being put at risk of contracting a deadly respiratory virus whilst waiting for an appointment. The government must be clear with the public about why all healthcare settings continue to operate in a different way, rather than continuing to fuel a damaging narrative about general practice that belies the reality and puts staff at risk of abuse.” (link, paywalled)

Ah – it’s about ‘protecting staff from abuse’ now. Well, patients must simply be taught to behave and put up with their frustrations if they want to see their doctors. Perhaps patients should be re-educated, to become good little peasants who approach their doctors on bended knees, forelocks tugged, and humbly beg for some treatment? Mr Whitty’s comments point in that direction: 

“He said the issue should not be allowed to be “driven by a public discourse” and the conversation about what was right should be between the medical profession and patients.: (link, paywalled)

Disallowing “public discourse” means that people – patients and their family members – should not speak to the MSM, should not take to social media with their complaints. All the evident failures of the NHS must be kept under the NHS blanket. Only the ‘professionals’ are allowed to speak – those doctors’ trade union representatives. After all, they’re doctors and thus constitutionally always ‘know best’, speaking down from a great height to the rest of us.

Enough is never enough in NHS cloud-cuckoo land: money isn’t enough, there must be a re-adjustment of patients’ attitudes. There must be no criticism, there must only be gratitude that ‘doctor will see you’ and will decide if you’re sufficiently sick to be worthy of going to hospital. This is what the medical trade union bosses demand.

Perhaps the ordinary GPs who have tried to do their best should ask themselves if their representatives aren’t making everything worse. Perhaps they and those frontline hospital doctors might ask themselves what might happen once people realise that they cannot trust their doctors or indeed the NHS to help them when ill. 

What will happen then?





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