We Support the Junior Docs: Hunt’s Cunning Stunt: A Guide

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Hunt’s Cunning Stunt: A Guide


Junior doctors. We’re everywhere these days, bleating and moaning about Jeremy Hunt and unfair this and unsafe that. I’ve made it my business to bleat and moan recently; but believe me I’d prefer not to have to. So what’s riled us up so much? Could it be that the new contract the government is proposing is an absolute joke? You know the sort of joke your uncle would make at a family dinner and someone, who at that exact moment happens to be blowing up a balloon, let’s the air squeak out slowly in total disbelief. To us, it’s one of those moments.

The Conservatives came up with a clever slogan to put into their election manifesto – ‘A truly seven day NHS’. However, it had one major problem: they didn’t have any money to fund a ‘truly’ seven day service, or any more doctors, or indeed any idea what they meant by it. Cue slow balloon squeak and silence.

Undeterred by little things like reality, but Jeremy Hunt needed some advice. Not from the friendly NHS staff. No, no. Much better to pay management consultants and get some non-NHS executive types to draw up a report. The outcome is beyond parody. I happened to find their strategy briefing document stuffed behind the ladies loo in Waterloo station cradled by an empty bottle of Lambrini. Weird. See below:

– Attack your doctors: Already working flat out well beyond their hours, ignore the higher than average suicide rate and highest drop out rates since records began. Imply that their ‘lack of vocation’ and the ‘fact they are not prepared to work seven days’ is the blockage (Never mind that they already do). Keep repeating ‘we need a seven day NHS’ as though it doesn’t already exist. Ignore the fact that doctors want to improve care across seven days, and can provide many suggestions for how to do so based on what is actually happening in hospitals at 1am on a Sunday night; they are the problem and they are not really there. Keep repeating this. Repeat the lie so much that real patients decide not to go to hospital on weekends, delaying treatment for serious conditions. Look directly into the camera. Repeat ‘we need a seven day NHS’ without clarifying what on earth you mean.

– Bend the statistics: Use very limited studies done by your mates to claim ‘more patients die at weekends’; even though this is not true, repetition again is key. Ignore the fact that actually fewer patients die at weekends and that the most patients die on Wednesdays. Claim ‘variations in any care system can be fixed without actually knowing WHY they occur’. Make up willy nilly plans to tackle these ‘variations’. Who needs science? Look directly into the camera. Repeat ‘we need a seven day NHS’ without clarifying whether you mean emergency or routine work.

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