The heart of the matter - a patient addresses striking junior doctors

At the Royal Liverpool hospital yesterday, a heart patient on the ward addressed the striking doctors outside by phone link - to wild cheering. This is what he said.

Sam Semoff
13 January 2016

Image: Sam Semoff

Good morning everybody.

I am a patient on the Cardiology ward here in the Royal.

I’ve been in here two weeks and I can tell you the care has been absolutely great, I could not have asked for better.

One thing is very apparent. Jeremy Hunt is a liar. He says we need a 24/7 service? Well we have 24/7 service! I have been in here two weekends and a doctor was always available, so were support services. For example they took my blood on Saturday and Sunday and the labs were there to do the necessary tests.

Then again we know he is a liar for he keeps repeating that 15 percent more people die on weekends when that has been totally discredited.

Hunt is also a hypocrite – he talks about patient safety, yet he wants to remove requirements that limit junior doctors working unsafe hours, putting patients lives at risk.

Last night the junior doctors in my section were supposed to go home at 5:00 pm but did not go until 8:00.

These are dedicated people. They really care about their patients. They went into medicine to help people. To say they are striking because of money or because they are being politically manipulated is an insult - a travesty.

Their main concern is their patients’ needs above all else Hunt knows this and takes advantage of it, he thinks he can push them to the limit and they will not do anything.

But a point has been reached where they feel they can no longer look after patients properly. So they have said enough is enough, they know the risks to their patients in going along with Hunt’s proposals are greater than doing nothing.

I wish a lot more health workers would reach that point - but that is another story.

It’s also important to realize this goes beyond the Junior Doctors. The Government is determined to decimate the NHS and turn it into a market based health care system like in America.

Believe me, as an American myself, I know what that means.

We have seen how the government has eroded the principles of universality, of a comprehensive integrated service that is publicly accountable. And they are now working to undermine the principle of a service that is publicly provided.

The NHS is being broken up into bits and turned over to the private sector where the overriding aim is profit.

When they get around to removing the principle of a service free at the point of delivery based on need, it will be too late.

The junior doctors are saying enough is enough and refusing to compromise on patient safety. But their battle is also one for the basic principles on which the NHS is founded.

If the Government succeeds in forcing them to work unsafe hours for less money, they will move on to other sections of the NHS.

Already we see they are getting ready to go after the student nurses with plans to remove their bursaries.

Thus it is absolutely essential that we continue to give the junior doctors our full support.

I hope to see you out here next week and the week after.

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