Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has commented that the junior doctors’ strike due this Tuesday and Wednesday is an “extreme” action that will be “deeply worrying for patients” (source: BBC). He’s right; many will be seriously inconvenienced by cancelled operations and there is every chance that people may die as either a direct or indirect result. Sorry, did I just make it sound like I agreed with him? Allow me a subordinate clause or two: Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who recklessly seeks to undermine the viability of the National Health Service and who refuses all suggestions of a middle ground, has commented, pretending to be concerned, that the junior doctors’ strike due this Tuesday and Wednesday is an “extreme” action that will be “deeply worrying for patients”.
He could be seen as devious, looking to dismantle the NHS, or merely incapable of projecting outcomes over a longer term. Either symptom suggests a diagnosis of someone who shouldn’t be entrusted with such a significant and worthwhile part of the national fabric. If he were to go ahead, many good doctors would leave the NHS to work elsewhere, in other sectors or other countries. Potentially good doctors would be discouraged from embarking on training for that course. People might suffer now as the junior doctors dig their heels in but they are trying to stop us from sliding off a cliff and, hippocratically, that is going to outweigh cuts and bruises suffered in the process.
In case Mr Hunt hasn’t noticed, our present NHS still offers excellent care at weekends even though the whole service has been overstretched for over a decade now. I wonder if he really does want to privatise the NHS and how on earth he thinks that will help? Also in the news this morning is another HS – BHS (British Home Stores) – that is filing for administration. Not an encouraging omen for those who believe in the beneficent hand of the free market.