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to think the doctors' union could have handled things better

(49 Posts)
MissTriggs Thu 11-Feb-16 20:52:57

I had not realised many of the stresses of the job until learning about the strike, and completely accept the need for better working conditions (which is practically the same thing as patient safety).

But why say a starting salary is X when it is XplusY for all except the minority who never do overtime? Why say it isn't about pay in the middle of a settlement negotiation that is about pay and only pay?

If they would walk out until there were enough social workers and social care beds, I would be on the streets with them. A strike targeted at a solvable problem would be one thing. But I don't think pay is their real problem - their real problem is not being resourced to do the job. I also think they have very naïve ideas indeed of what other people earn and indeed of the ability of other professionals to even stay in the workplace at all after having kids. It's particularly unfortunate when they say "I could leave and work in the city" (the naivety of that remark would mean they wouldn't get an interview).

In short, I feel like the Gov. and the BMI have been playing a dispute game with each other in London that misses the point of what's really wrong. I feel the BMI is trying to equate "back our strike" with "back the NHS" and I just don't accept it. I think they need to protest better, smarter, more honestly.

ilovesooty Thu 11-Feb-16 21:11:00

So what would you suggest?

Unhappyexpat Thu 11-Feb-16 21:11:10

I'm behind them all the way.

I was an academic scientist for many years. The pay is shite, it used to be the same as medics but as we never had a union like the bmi we got gradually eroded.
This government is trying everything it can to drive the NHS into the ground. When it starts to fail it'll get broken up and asset stripped and a few people will make an absolute fortune. This is part of that strategy (along with things like pricing which are less emotive but just as dangerous )
Maybe they are naive - but dragging everyone down to the same level benefits no one.
At the end of the day, I want the people involved in life or death desicions to be well rested well paid and the pick of the crop.

If other unions had the power of the bma we'd maybe not be such a low wage, poor condition country

Mrscog Thu 11-Feb-16 21:15:11

I agree, I am on the whole sympathetic to the Drs cause, but some of the things I've seen are wildly exaggerated which I find difficult to stomach from 'the best and the brightest' - they should be presenting statistics clearly and fairly (as should the govt).

But also, I'm friends with a few Drs on FB who are saying things like 'right that's it now the job hunt starts' I think they're a bit deluded on what most of the job market is like - either low paid, or high paid, but you'll still be working a long week. Also there are not many industries left where you get paid enhancements for unsocial hours. I'm not saying it should be a race to the bottom, but I think it might be better all around to say - right your salary is £x to do this job for up to 48 hours a week. we'll fine hospitals if they make you work more than this (and I am completely against this being scrapped). That would be much more comparable with other 'top' professions. Certainly people I know who could have been drs who work elsewhere professionally (law, accountancy, engineering) are doing 50 hour weeks as standard.

Kittykatmacbill Thu 11-Feb-16 21:23:22

No. They are objecting to having to work longer hours which spread them so thinly on the ground that they can't look after the patient safely or even have adequate time away from work to rest - not talking about fancy stuff like weekends just sufficient times between day shifts and night shifts. And getting paid less for the privilege.

I can't fathom why <unt (bbc pronunciation) holds Britian in such low regard, that he is prepared to break up our civic infrastructure in order to sell it off to his cronies. We aren't post soviet Russia, so he should be held to account and stopped.

Utterly heartbreaking.

hefzi Thu 11-Feb-16 21:36:53

Strikes are only ever about money, actually, no matter what platitudes the unions mouth: and inevitably, the union will sell its members down the river over the other issues it was pretending that the strike was really about once the pay issue is settled.

It's disingenuous of the BMA and the doctors to pretend that this strike was about working hours and patient care: doctors are already working the hours the strikers claimed are untenable - it's just that more of those extra hours are at the higher rate than they would have been under the new agreement. So it's not about hours or patients' care - the bottom line is the money.

I'm an academic. The most major union in our sector has various mealy-mouthed strikes, that they present as being about working conditions (mainly): actually, like the doctors, they are about pay. They stop giving a shit that our average week is 70 hours month in, month out, once they get the 2% payrise that they were agitating for - that anyway ends up being less over the course of the year than the 2 or 3 days' pay already lost through the strike. I'm one of the lucky ones, though- as I work in HE, I get a small rise every year connected with inflation (as well as a spine point): those in the private sector, especially those who are not part of multi-nationals and in high prestige jobs, aren't so fortunate - I know many people who haven't even had an inflationary rise in 7 or 8 years.

One day and two day strikes solve nothing: and cost union members more financially than any gains made in the end. But the lack of honesty over the real issues is what makes it all so mealy-mouthed, whether it's doctors or academics: because when it is all settled, and clear that, actually, it was about the money (you know, like previous doctors' strikes, or threatened GP strikes etc etc) it makes all those involved look completely lacking in integrity.

Some of the rhetoric surrounding the issues has been ridiculous too: this whole notion of the "brightest and best" who, suddenly, are all going to retrain to do something else because of this. Firstly, I don't believe that only the "brightest and best" become doctors- I like to think that many of those who train are doing it out of a sense of vocation, as educators are, for example, rather than to get high salaries. Anyone who is bright "could" have been a doctor, in the same way they "could have been" a lawyer, banker, analyst etc It's both insulting and inaccurate to imply that the very best of young peoplehood go into the medical profession. Secondly, a lot of careers where you need an extensive amount of tertiary education are, unfortunately, low paid in the beginning (and some right through to the end) - and as no-one (well, not no-one, but it's a very, very fortunate doctor who doesn't have to do overtime and weekends) actually gets the starting salary, it's relatively irrelevant. You rarely see sales' salaries advertised where the figure isn't OTE, do you? Thirdly, it's absurd to try to pretend that there's a link between the "goodness" of a career and its salary: otherwise, footballers wouldn't earn many, many times what social workers do.

I don't blame the doctors for wanting more money: but I blame them for not being honest about it. It makes them look mealy-mouthed and disingenuous when it becomes clear, as it always does, that this is really just about money.

Dawndonnaagain Thu 11-Feb-16 21:37:14

I think the government could have handled things better. Starting with not selling off the NHS to the highest bidder.
We already have a seven day NHS, the government don't seem to have noticed, I suspect it's because they have private health care, which funnily enough isn't a seven day service.
Wholly support the doctors.

MissTriggs Thu 11-Feb-16 21:56:12

"So what would you suggest?"

Hi I love sooty.

Well I am embarrassed this wasn't in the OP but I understand the BMA made one late offer to only have a 6 percent pay rise but keep enhancement for Saturdays? So maybe the BMA was listening but figured out the public mood too little too late?

What I'd really love to know more about it the law on what people can strike for. I suspect it might be illegal to strike for more MRI machines/more cleaners/more nurses/more physios. Does anyone know?
Because that would be an explanation for the BMA's actions.

Agree that the brightest and best stuff is deeply embarrassing when combined with very crude rhetoric and wrong facts.

MissTriggs Thu 11-Feb-16 21:57:56

"dragging everyone down to the same level "

that's also fairly offensive if you care to think about it. The level where unimportant people are? heaven forbid...

MissTriggs Thu 11-Feb-16 21:58:23

as with "race to the bottom" - ie the bottom where all the ex employment lawyers are?

ForalltheSaints Thu 11-Feb-16 22:03:31

Possibly on reflection.

However, they have been much better behaved that Jeremy Hunt. The man who makes Michael Gove's tenure at Education seem reasonable.

MissTriggs Thu 11-Feb-16 22:06:45

lol Jeremy Hunt.

anyone know about the strike laws? I wonder if that might be it. You can't strike over the real problem, you can only strike for your own pay.

MissTriggs Thu 11-Feb-16 22:10:09


"Secondary action

It’s against the law to take part in ‘secondary action’ (going on strike in sympathy with people who work for a different employer)."

I wonder if that has something to do with it...

LaurieMarlow Thu 11-Feb-16 22:13:54

Neither side covered themselves in glory in this particular dispute. But fundamentally I agree. It is about pay and I don't think they did themselves any favours trying to dress it up otherwise.

If they think they can get a better deal elsewhere (within or outside the profession) they should go do that. Simples.

LaurieMarlow Thu 11-Feb-16 22:16:01

Hunt needs to be fired though. I've seldom seen a negotiation so badly managed.

LaurieMarlow Thu 11-Feb-16 22:18:13

Great post Hefzi, very well put.

UndramaticPause Thu 11-Feb-16 22:20:35

Yanbu and the more I learn about this strike the more I despise the BMA

Chipstick10 Thu 11-Feb-16 22:21:19

I thought Burnham was an excellent health sec. First class.

Chipstick10 Thu 11-Feb-16 22:22:21

And I don't support the strike.

Radicalrooster Thu 11-Feb-16 22:24:59

Hefzi, well said.

When all is said and done the only sticking point between the Govt and the BMA was the latter's resistance to accepting the fact that Saturday daytime should be a normal working day, attracting 'normal' rates of pay. They appear to want basic rate plus 50% for those hours.

Tough shit. It should be obvious from day one of training that their new career will involve hours, potentially antisocial hours, unlike any other profession. That's because the practice of medicine is unlike any other profession.

CockwombleJeff Thu 11-Feb-16 23:09:51

Just wondered if any of you guys posters are working with the junior doctors on a day in day out basis to be able to comment on whether they are being honest and upfront?

Because I do. They are exhausted, work relentlessly hard and are upfront about not wanting to work more hours for less pay.

UndramaticPause Thu 11-Feb-16 23:16:13

So are a lot of other people. I really want to tell them to suck it up but that's not a popular opinion.

Celticlassie Thu 11-Feb-16 23:18:08

I have a friend who is a doctor. He is 36 and earns the best part of £200,000. I feel the earning potential of junior doctors probably makes up for the poor wages initially.

watchingthedetectives Thu 11-Feb-16 23:22:16

Virtually no one earns the best part of £200,000 at 36 - your friend is either a fantasist or a plastic surgeon or both I know no one in this position despite working in central London

Aspergallus Thu 11-Feb-16 23:29:09

What a lot of nonsense. Few of you really get it.

It's actually not really about money. It's the piecemeal break up and privatisation of the NHS. This has been a slow process by successive governments. Deprofessionalisation of the contract, bit by bit. Removing obstacles to private takeover.

If (the majority) of doctors were mercenaries motivated by cash we'd all resign tomorrow and make better money and choose our hours locumming.

I work in a specialty which is hugely understaffed with very few junior Drs in training. So the shortage is getting worse and worse. I know of one colleague among about 100 who resigned, stating, "there's such a shortage, I can capitalise by locumming" He's now working 9-5 only 6 months of the year for far more than the rest of us earn full-time with unsocial hours. But when he told lots of he was doing this we were all shocked...a shocking story that spread through the whole trust. How could he do that? So I just don't buy the idea that the strike is about money. The majority of doctors I know remain very idealistic and sold on the idea of maintaining the NHS for no other reason than it is the right thing to do.

This strike really does equate to saving the NHS. Once the doctors are "in line", the rest of the staff will be under attack and ultimately the NHS will become profitable for private takeover. That is the agenda.

Fortunately I happen to work in a sector where there is lots of money to be made in the private sector now and in the future so I say this with no self interest.

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