Cough Up…

Junior doctors are overpaid, mollycoddled and downright immoral; it is of no concern to them if a patient is more likely to die at the weekend as long as they get more dosh and they’re lazy. Hmm… OK, OK, don’t get obstreperous with me; look, I’m just practising in case some part of the right wing media offers me a lucrative column and they would only be interested in fascist tirades. The left wing media doesn’t pay enough and I’m modestly eying up Boris’ £250K for his weekly rant in the Telegraph, which incidentally he describes as ‘chicken feed’. I hereby announce that in my next life I want to come back as a chicken on Boris’s farm. He’s bound to have one somewhere – a farm that is.

The opening statement is a paraphrase of what is peddled as fact by the Mail, Telegraph, Times and the rest of the Tory media. Now, I am the first to admit that the junior doctors are better able and more articulate than I in presenting their case so although I very much support them I’ll leave them to argue the toss.

My regular readers, both of you, might be interested in something my friend Joe raised during a debate (!) the other evening (yes you are, thank you). Joe has an irritating habit of being relevant “what is a junior doctor anyway?” he asked. Good question; we’ve heard a lot about them except exactly what they do. I had always assumed that they were a few adolescents, wet around the ears, who had just qualified and didn’t know much more than me about illnesses. Apparently not. Junior doctors are postgraduate qualified doctors, all 55,000 of them, who haven’t yet reached the rank of consultant. They have gone through a minimum of five years graduate training and a further five years gaining experience before they can qualify as a GP plus a further four years on top of that to qualify as a hospital specialist. They could have spent fourteen years learning their trade whilst experiencing daily the grim reality of trying to save someone’s life, though sometimes working ninety hours a week. (The Herald, June 2014)

The lowest paid newly qualified junior doctor gets a basic starting salary of about £23,000, which if you calculate their normal weekly hours at 56 per week, which is the least they normally do, equates to approximately £7.90 per hour. Our local Wetherspoons is offering £7.50 an hour to kitchen staff and Aldis pays new recruits £8.40 per hour. A junior doctor who has spent the fourteen years learning their trade can earn around £70,000. A decent wage, I hear you say. In comparison, Cameron and his repugnant Chancellor insist on impressing on us how important the City of London is to our wellbeing, the engine room of our economy. So let’s look at an important cog in that wheel – a hedge fund manager. They need no formal qualifications and are basically a sort of sophisticated mega-time gambler (and almost certainly a contributor to the Tories war chest) and earn about £250K basic salary with an annual bonus of around £460K (Guardian, August 2014). Ask yourself, who is contributing more to your quality of life? Whose hands would you prefer to put your life in? Just how much is your life worth?

The point of my mentioning junior doctors is to highlight an example of the way this pernicious Tory Government is setting about dismantling our National Health Service. Since Thatcher, for ideological reasons, they have beavered steadily away at eroding the most precious of gifts that the post war Labour Government bequeathed to our nation. Before the arrival of the NHS ordinary hard working people were dying because they couldn’t afford any medical care; diseases that nowadays are often treated with a course of antibiotics. In 1947 the guiding principles of the new NHS were set out as:

  • that it meet the needs of everyone
  • that it be free at the point of delivery
  • that it be based on clinical need, not ability to pay

But the Tories have plenty of history of destroying anything that is anathema to their materialistic ideology, which means something that doesn’t turn a profit for the City. First they attack the most vulnerable, then the institution itself. Thatcher cruelly reduced the miners to the equivalent of industrial eunuchs before unleashing her vengeful wrath on what was left of organised labour; and all because they saw through the Tory maniacal philosophy.

The callous Tories have already attacked the vulnerable in the NHS by cutting back care welfare for the sick and elderly, now it’s the junior doctors’ turn. It’ll soon be the defenceless nurses and eventually the, by then, isolated consultants.

There were seventy MP’s recorded with links to private welfare companies in the coalition government including David Cameron and surprise, surprise, the alleged richest man in the Cabinet Jeremy Hunt and the now disgraced LibDems trio of C’s, Clegg, Cable and Campbell (Menzies), (Mirror 4th Feb 2015). It alarms me that I once had a sneaky admiration for the latter two.

I understand that with the new intake of Tory MP’s last May about 50% of the scary bunch now has links with private medical firms. Companies with links to Tory MP’s were awarded NHS contracts worth £3.5billion in 2014, 37% of the total value of NHS contracts awarded (Guardian April 2015. & HSJ.co.uk). They must be rubbing their grubby hands with glee at the prospect of more profits to be made from the complete privatisation of the NHS. “…those suckers will have to pay us to use their own service”… must be the toast of the Carlton Club at the moment.

Meanwhile the hapless Jeremy Hunt bumbles along looking more and more like a right wally hung out to dry by the Posh Duo. When he has finished his grubby task of destroying our health service he will be put out to grass along with the other donkeys. Then one of his fellow asses can explain to him the difference between Hippocratic and Hypocritic.

It really is time we had the foresight, or just guts even, to tear up current economic models and start with a clean sheet to decide how to prioritise the spending of taxpayers’ (our) money. The Labour Party wouldn’t be a bad place to start this discussion; of course it should be an all-encompassing exercise including education, housing, defence and the country’s infrastructure but if we were to invest sufficient funds into the NHS we would have a chance to restore this great institution to its former status as the most admired healthcare system in the World and at the same time save it from Tory avarice. We haven’t got long because I doubt that the heartless Tories will ever cough up.

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