By now, everyone knows that junior doctors have been on strike this week, due to planned changes the government want to make in terms of working hours and conditions.
While there have been some pretty outlandish, and not to mention incorrect headlines and accusations made by certain sections of the media about ‘Moet Medics’ and why the doctors are striking, the fact remains, they have legitimate concerns and a right to make their views known.
There were around 100 picket lines up and down the country, and at one such point in Southampton, one young doctor saw a man on the other side of the line having difficulties and decided to cross the picket lines to help – despite the fact he was on strike.
His actions quickly went viral, with media outlets up and down the country picking the story up, and we got in contact with the doctor, who preferred not to be named – and asked him a few questions.
Here’s what he had to say:
Why are you striking?
For me and most of the medics I know, its about patient safety – the government are trying to remove safeguards that currently fine hospitals for making junior doctors work unsafe hours.
When this goes, hospitals will be able to make us work dangerously long shifts, and no one wants to be treated, or have their families treated by tired, overworked doctors. We work in a world that has humans treating other humans, so the potential for mistakes is great.
There’s also massive confusion about the seven day NHS. This already exists in multiple parts of the hospital – if you have a heart attack, you’ll get a procedure to open your blocked arteries, whether it be a 2am on a Sunday, or 2pm on a Tuesday.
Similarly, if you perforate your bowel, a surgeon will do the same life saving operation regardless of time of day, or day of the week. We all want a properly seven day NHS, but going after the people who staff it is not the way forward.
Why did you go to help the guy?
It was a bit of a reflex really, the guy looked in trouble and there were a couple of people around him, but I thought I’d better check they were doing basic stuff for him. All I really did was open his airway, hear the story from people who’d seen it, and wait for the paramedics.
And the fact that you were on strike?
The fact I was ‘crossing the lines’ didn’t occur to me – the guy was in trouble. Just because I was striking that day, doesn’t mean I wouldn’t help someone on the street. Any doctor in my position would have done the same, strike day or not.
Obviously going into a career in medicine is a vocation, and you naturally feel compelled to help people…
Yeah, it’s really demoralising when Jeremy Hunt questions our sense of vocation.
All we can say is that whether striking or not, the guy is a hero, and while he probably just sees helping people as his job, that fact alone shows how much doctors care and how much we need to listen to them.