Striking to maintain safe staffing levels

I can’t have been the only person to be struck by the irony of the radio informing us all that the Junior Doctors were striking to maintain safe staffing levels, surely?

I love everything the NHS stands for, and have only the ultimate respect for its hard-working, selfless staff – from the cleaners right up to the Consultants.

I hate strikes with as much passion, however.  The Trades Union movement has a rightly proud history of improving and maintaining the health, well-being and quality of life of its membership and beyond.  Their success has been predicated on a collective voice at the negotiating table based upon sound reasoning and lobbying – together with the successful ‘education’ of the general population on the plight of workers.

In a ‘battle’ between the eponymous fat cat industrialist and the downtrodden workforce, I can – with effort – accept the value of industrial action as a last resort against a manufacturer of industrial widgets for example; but isn’t that why the term ‘industrial action’ is so coined?

For me, there are certain vocations (they are more than just careers) that should NEVER have legal recourse to industrial action.  These are the Police Force, Armed Forces, Fire Brigades, Ambulance Services and the clinicians of the National Health Service.

As a former member of one, I fully accepted that when I ‘signed on the dotted line’ I was committing myself to public service and would have my terms and conditions bestowed upon me.  If I no longer wished to accept this limitation, I could ‘talk with my feet’.

I know little of the negotiations underway between the government and the British Medical Association – but wholeheartedly and unreservedly accept that they have a point.  Such is the trust I happily place in such public-serving bodies.

Any action taken that serves to impact on Joe (or Jill) Public feels more akin to divorcing parents using their children as pawns in a bitter alimony dispute, however.  For this reason, I am sympathetic to the plight of, but unable to support the industrial action being taken by the Junior Doctors.

My hope is that the BMA return to the negotiating table – even with an ACAS agreement in force; and hope that these planned strikes do not lessen the esteem in which these doctors are rightly held.

Over to you.  Where do you stand on the Junior Doctor’s strike?  Let everyone know in the comments section below.

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