Thursday, 9 June 2016

My thoughts on the junior doctor contract vote

This post may be unpleasant reading for some of you but frankly it needs to be said given the way some of the 'debate' is heading. Firstly I'm not going to spin cheap sound bites and propaganda in order to push your opinion into voting 'Yes' or 'No'. It has been clear throughout all this that we are all big enough and ugly enough to analyse the evidence to make up our own minds.
Secondly be cynical. When all this mess was in its infancy, it was clear that the government's tactic of treating us like idiots by inundating us with NHS Employers' propaganda massively backfired. Whatever our opinion, we should not behave as the government did and sink to cheap superficial sound bites without a coherent underpinning of solid rationale. Also in terms of being 'cynical', if people are telling you how to vote and pushing you with cheap rhetoric, then just look at them and analyse what do they have to gain from saying what they are saying? What are their conflicts of interest, where are they trying to end up? We are all biased, whether subconsciously or consciously or both, and it's vital we analyse argument in the context of who it comes from and their conflicts of interest.
Thirdly be pragmatic. Whichever way you intend to vote, consider the short and long term implications of the action. How will the BMA, NHS Employers, the DoH all be served by certain votes? If you want to vote 'Yes', think practically how this will affect the relationship between us and our Employers, and how this may influence the implementation of a new contract? If you want to vote 'No', then think practically how can this vote lead to an improved contract, how would this be achieved and what would need to be done?
Of course this is all massively complex and there are many unpredictable factors, this is life, this is politics. That's why I wouldn't dream of patronising you by telling you what to do. Still, trust no one, look at what everyone has to gain from doing what they are doing, and think through the practical implications of the way you intend to vote. No contract can ever be perfect, there will always be compromises of sorts. Much in the same way as we treat our patients, there is often no perfect option, all options have their pros and cons. It is therefore pretty clear we cannot trust anyone who pretends one choice has all pros and no cons, this is not life, this is disingenuous spin.
My conflicts of interest: I have no income other than my NHS salary, I am an Orthopaedic ST5 and I want to see the best deal possible for junior doctors and our future patients.