Defend our doctors….

I am entirely sure that doctors, like other workers in critical, safety-sensitive, positions do not take a decision to take industrial action lightly. When they do take this decision, as they did yesterday, therefore their reasons deserve serious examination. Firstly, we can dismiss the notion that they should not be allowed to strike and that their strike is somehow ‘reckless’. Every single person has the right to withdraw their labour, there are no exceptions, and the British Medical Association has made it quite clear emergency care will still be provided;

“On that day, doctors will be in their usual workplaces but providing urgent and emergency care only”, wrote the BMA.

“We will be postponing non-urgent cases and although this will be disruptive to the NHS, rest assured, doctors will be there when our patients need us most and our action will not impact on your safety.”

In this context we can see the BMA is behaving responsibly, not putting peoples lives in danger but still exercising its right to make its voice heard. Sadly, Andy Burnham seems to have sided with those who think that doctors have no right to take any kind of action whatsoever;

“It’s the BMA’s right to make their own decision, but even at this stage   I would urge doctors to pull back from any form of action that damages   patient care, including disruption to non-urgent care.

“Instead, I would urge the BMA to follow other routes in making clear the   substance of their disagreement with the Government.”

By implication, Mr Burnham rules out doctors right to strike as there is no form of actual strike action that would fulfill his criteria. Furthermore, he doesn’t really offer the doctors any answers having previously  accepted their ‘strength of feeling’ is essentially legitimate. Once again we see what a hopeless muddle the Labour leadership gets itself in when it is confronted with this kind of situation. Rather than make an objective assessment of the issues at stake it twists and turns. trying to please everybody all of the time.

It is telling that the right-wing press have immediately sought to tarnish doctors as ‘greedy’ (notice how every striker is always ‘greedy’). This cheap attempt to play workers off against each other, one that does nothing to explain what doctors actually do to earn their money, the emotional stresses and strains, the long hours, etc is not one we should be reinforcing but combating.

Mr Burnham however acknowledges the doctors dispute has to be looked at both in the particular, a dispute over pensions, and the wider context of this governments ideological assault on the public sector. Changing pension schemes is only the first step in a program of dismantlement that moves through regional pay to the eventual end of a public sector that has been entirely privatised leaving the poor and the needy cast totally adrift. It is the height of hypocrisy for Mr Lansley to criticise one day’s worth of industrial action for the disruption it will cause on the day figures revealed his policies are leading to sky-rocketing waiting times for accident and emergency patients. Doctors would have to go on strike for alot longer than one day to do the kind of damage he and his Party are doing to patient care.

We should defend our doctors and support them as they take an action that has been forced upon them by an intransigent, ideologically driven government, which cares not a jot for anything other than its zealot’s agenda to destroy our NHS once and for all.


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About darrellgoodliffe


4 responses to “Defend our doctors….”

  1. John reid says :

    After the 1984 Miners strike aand the Wapping dispute of 1986, the Public had lost Alot of sympathy for strikers, baring in mind the 1974 Miner’s strike ,brought down the Heath govenrment and the public who were in darkness sympathised with the Miners then, As suh I recall the Paramedics/ Nurses strike of 1989 when aLot of them worked for free and went to work aswell as attending the picket line, it was the first strike of the Thatcher era ,that the strikers won, and it helped get them a better pay deal, doctors pay 14.5% of htier wage to their pension,As far As I know the only public sector workers who apy morethan that into their pension is the Police with 14.9%, Don’t nkow what Burnham’s plaiyn gat, stirking is the last refuge that when face with jobs losses that a lot of us have, I supprt the doctors and i’m sure they would come into when there was An emergency.


  2. darrellgoodliffe says :

    John, to be honest, I dont think people barely remember those disputes now, i’m 30 and was only a child at the time, maybe they are an issue in the generations above me but that will pass as time rolls on, I dont think people have the same fear of the unions they did in the 80s…..I think however, the knee-jerk reaction of Mr Bunrham is stuck in the 80s….


  3. john P reid says :

    there’s A lesson though that where now the public are supportingstrikes even though they may have to wal;k to work when the trains are on strike ,there’s a fine line if union militantism overtakes things the public can easily lose sympathy for strikers, like they did in the early 80’s, you got any literature you’d like distributed to local members for the NEC.


    • darrellgoodliffe says :

      John, I think any strike always walks that line. Strikes by their very nature are disruptive, its errr not a strike if it isnt. I do think as you kind of intimate, strikers need to make their case to the public, but strikes need to be judged on the merits of their individual case…


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