No, we don’t need to talk about Jeremy

Over the weekend, a new anti Jeremy Hunt hashtag appeared on Twitter- #saysorryhunt. The successor to #Iminworkjeremy and #weneedtotalkaboutjeremy, it will no doubt be a great success, but to what end?
Hunt’s crime is to suggest that mortality is worse for people admitted at the weekend, and that having more doctors around at the weekend is likely to help this. He brought in a suggestion from the DDRB that the weekend opt-out be phased out. This, by the way, is what he said about doctors professionalism, now apparently insulted:
“Every weekend, doctors go into hospital to see their patients, driven by professionalism and goodwill”.

Now. There are major problems with his argument: the figures are unpublished, so we can’t interpret the mortality claim. More doctors at the weekend means fewer during the week, unless there is a load more money. The opt out does appear to be a non issue. But is calling for Hunt to resign the appropriate or best response?

There are several reasons why not:
Firstly, what if he did? He’s putting in place Tory policy that, this time, was in the manifesto. I’m afraid if Hunt resigns, Cameron is unlikely to call on Jeremy Corbyn as his replacement.

Secondly, calling for resignation and attacking the specifics of his argument distracts from the wider question of 7 day working, and the extent to which it is achievable and desirable. Not to mention the rest of the Tory NHS agenda. …

Thirdly, it looks self-centred and petulant. The message might seem to be this: fragment the NHS, make it unworkably bureaucratic, sell it off piecemeal, slash public health and mental health spending, and we’ll grumble into our hors d’oeuvres. Obliquely threaten our weekends, and we’ll set the internet alight.

I don’t want to work weekends- few people do. But pretending a row about our terms and conditions is a grand crusade of righteousness is misleading at best. We always like to congratulate ourselves that doctors are more trusted than those awful politicians, but every time we do something like this, we erode that trust, and risk becoming just another group out for their own interests. And that is exactly what the Tories want us to become… 

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One thought on “No, we don’t need to talk about Jeremy

  1. Completely agree. There are valid arguments about working conditions. And there are valid arguments about patient care, safety, service delivery, sustainability, funding etc… But confusing the two is just muddying the waters and diluting important concerns IMO

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