I'm not sure we really care any more.
This is the really dangerous possible outcome for everyone concerned. I have enormous sympathy for Sevo but that sentence should scare us all, including him.
(For clarity, I'm a GP and I'm not
striking, but I don't condemn my colleagues who do. I believe a better path would be to stop cooperating with any paperwork or data collection instead.)
In the 60's, doctors worked long hours but had some goodwill, somewhere to put their head down between patients on 36 hour shifts and hot meals in return. You worked your arse off but were looked after in return.
In the 80's there was a contract that meant junior doctors earned half their usual hourly rate for overtime, so hospital doctors made people work 120 hours a week because it was cheaper than hiring two doctors for 60 hours a week. No one fed them and although they still had rooms to sleep in, they never saw them. Junior doctors were dropping dead from exhaustion (!) and patients often died because barely conscious exhausted doctors were making terrible decisions after being on their feet for 48 or more hours straight. (The longest shift I've ever worked while shadowing a junior doctor as a med student in 1998 was 52 hours.)
In the 2000's, the contracts were redrawn after another threatened strike based on the quite reasonable concern that doctors were dropping dead and so were patients. But training was cut back on, the rooms to sleep in were charged for and students had to start paying fees that got higher and higher, and are set to rise further. Money for postgraduate training was cut so a lot of doctor's training was paid for out of their own pockets.
GMC fees (essential registration fees that are a requirement of training), Postgraduate Medical and Education Training Boards (quangos that require payments to sign off postgraduate doctors as finishing their training), other bodies who you can't avoid to be trained (such as the Royal College of GP's) all introduced more training but expected the junior doctors earning least to pay for it all. And since student fees have risen, the average medical student leaves univeristy with a medical degree and £30,748 of debt. (Source: BMA survey 2011
Post-Harold Shipman, everyone had to fill out vastly more paperwork all the time to prove that they weren't a murdering psychopath. It doesn't benefit patients, gives useless people jobs administering it. The ironic thing about the 21st century cult of "paperwork saving lives" is that Shipman would have sailed through the bloody lot of it. Doctors want to spend time with patients, not filling out 30 forms for a government that only intends to use any statistics for political gain anyway.
Five years ago, doctors accepted pension changes to make them fairer and more sustainable for the future, already agreeing to changes that other unions have ignored for years because they realised it was fairer. Their reward for this foresight is to have their pension payments increased again. They would have been better off if they'd resisted pension changes the last time they were discussed, but they didn't because they're not b
ds and thought it'd be fairer to pay what they should.
So the point of my lengthy rant? This isn't about pensions. This is about a gradual piling on of s
t since the 80's. There was an unwritten contract that said that doctors, nurses and other NHS staff worked dilligently for their communities and though they'd never be enormously rich through NHS work, they'd be looked after when they needed it in return. Then looking after staff became less important than the money.
There comes a point when frankly, bright and previously devoted people are fed up of receiving blows and stop giving a s
t. How do you stop that? Sod the bloody pensions- like I said, I don't believe this really is about pensions.
Solve it by engaging with young doctors (and nurses and other health professionals too). Give them a cup of coffee and a slice of pizza on a night shift. Stop charging for the rooms they sleep in. Support them so they're not crippled by debt when they leave university (which would cost the country less than rigging pensions for doctors and nurses by a long way). Stop monopolies by the Royal Colleges, GMC, hospitals, PMETB (and many other organisations) to charge undergraduates and graduates whatever they like to keep training and keep progressing.
Otherwise more and more doctors will simply "I'm not sure we really care any more." I'm trying hard not to become one of them because if I do, I think that one of the most important bonds between doctors and patients is lost.
Bugger the pension for a moment- Help me and others like me who started to try to look after people to stop becoming disillusioned. A little goodwill, hot food on call, some kind words and some support when you're young and vulnerable as a professional will probably go a lot further than any bloody pension package.