I note that consultant cardiologist Dr Chatterjee has an issue with strikes. He correctly identifies that the “value of doctors’ pay has eroded over the past 15 years or so” but that pay restoration “can wait until the NHS recovers to some extent”. I imagine it must be easy enough to say this on a consultant’s wage. I’m an F1 at the other end of the spectrum. Perhaps Dr Chatterjee could advise us F1s how long we should obediently wait before approaching Government, cup in hand, asking that we be paid what we’re worth? Perhaps he will cover our bills in the meantime?
He goes on to state that, in calling for a “pay rise” (sic), there is “no mention of improving working conditions for doctors, the urgent need for reforms, and investment in the NHS”. First, it’s pay restoration, not a pay rise. Further, by calling for pay restoration, what are we doing if not asking Government to invest in the NHS? Staff are the most valuable part of the healthcare system, yet are clearly least valued by Government, who will happily spaff £37bn on a failed testing system but scoff at giving employees the remuneration they deserve. Unfortunately, mortgage and utility providers don’t accept “banging pots and pans to support the NHS workers” as legal tender.
The health service is struggling, this myself and Dr Chatterjee can agree on. However, it’s down to a decade or more of poor political choices and chronic underinvestment, not strikes, and to suggest otherwise is pure fantasy. Colleagues of mine, not even four months in, are already planning their exits, be it to Australasia, North America or simply to a different industry, where they will be properly compensated for what they’re worth. How does Dr Chatterjee’s plan to “wait until the NHS recovers to some extent” address this?
To quote a sign by my desk, “Would the last doctor to leave please remember to switch off the lights. Thanks.”
Dr R MacDonald
Competing interest: BMA rep, SJDC (writing in a strictly personal capacity).
Re: Why I can’t continue to strike