Courtesy technology, social media and the wonderous electronic world-wide, intrer-connected-webulous, despite being half the world away I’ve been able to keep across events, do my bit on the telly and wireless and file copy for my post-cards home.
As I fly back the Albion I’m thinking about the Great NHS Strike of 2016 when the junior doctors took on the mighty machinery of government and… and… and what?
Lost, I suspect. What is there to win? The union have lead their members into a cul-de-sac. More strikes, more disruption? More risk to reputation, careers, public patience?
Let’s be honest, the contract is not the draconian settlement it is billed as. The gap between the BMA and the DH is easily bridgeable. The BMA walked away from David Dalton and the DH threw their toys out of the pram.
The JDs have let themselves become a lightening rod for every complaint and disaffection there is in the NHS work place. Their strategic communications woeful.
The JDs complain of gaps in rota. So do Trusts! Both sides know, since the catastrophic Coalition decision, back in 2010, to cut training places, the sky is black with chickens coming home to roost.
The problem will work its way through the system and shouting on a picket line won’t hasten the delivery of a single more doctor, nurse or health professional.
I can’t see a solution beyond local resolution. This is the time for Trust boards and particularly chief executives to show courageous leadership.
Show good faith by getting workplace guardians in place. Make sure the JDs are featured in the selection process. Work through roster problems on the ground.
Become a good employer, a thoughtful employer, an ‘I remember working there and it was great place….’ employer. Not just a place where training docs rotate in and out. Passing through. Here today, gone tomorrow. A place where they can learn what a good employer looks like.
There are plenty of studies about behaviour in post-strike work places. Smouldering resentment. Strikes are industrial warfare. Employees lose money, somebody will have lost face. Emotions run hot.
In the normal workplace, usually, it is possible to end the post strike hostilities that creat disharmony and disaffection. It isn’t easy but skilled management professionals and a determined board can achieve it.
The NHS is different. No sooner is the training doctor arrived, they are gone. The rotation system, the intensity of work and pressures to perform make training doctors a very difficult group for Trusts to engage with.
JDs are semi-detached. It is easy for a lazy employer to let things slip. Overlook poor practice. The absence of catering and welfare that is common sense for the permanent staff overlook for the transient population.
The Tinkerman has made it clear and all the political signs point to the fact that the contract will be ‘introduced’, imposed, shoehorned-in. Call it what you like.
The corrosive effect will leave a scar, on some junior doctors, they’ll carry for a life time. It is vital that they understand this is not a fight between the Trusts and the doctors. Restoring peace in the Trust will not be enough. Restoring peace across the NHS is vital.
Some JDs may be belligerent and angry. Others thoroughly demotivated and disappointed.
A collective statement from Trusts is long overdue. I’m wondering what the Confed still exist for? Their chief executive is leaving and the chairman an ex-Tory health secretary; hardly the right combination to influence events.
What needs to be said?
“The government are entitled to deliver their manifest and our role is to implement policy, however difficult. There are not enough doctors but there are enough people with brains and common sense to see this fight is not our fight.
We will talk to the Training Doctors in our workplace, involve them, make sure they are fairly treated and enjoy the time they are part of our team.
No one group has a monopoly on deciding what is safe. We all have a part to play and in this Trust and the others that will be part your career, we are all committed to a common purpose; delivering the best care we can.”
Strikes and disruption are things of the past. We are all much smarter than this.