Because of the state of the NHS, doctors are often written about in the news. It’s no secret that working conditions for doctors in the NHS (whether junior or senior) are really bad and seem to be deteriorating rapidly with time.
Shifts where you have to cover hundreds of sick patients by yourself is not and never will be justifiable. Patients are at risk of serious harm and I’m sure many have died as a result. When a patient does come to harm, that single doctor covering all those patients is the one that gets the blame, jeopardising his or her career. A career that they’ve sacrificed a heck of a lot for and dedicated an enormous amount of time towards. A similar picture is true of primary care physicians – they have to see a patient every ten minutes, which is a totally arbitrary amount of time and obviously isn’t enough for many patients. The GP then has to make a choice between practicing dangerous medicine or letting their clinic run into their personal time. All GPs I know do the latter as it’s better to let your clinic run late than to jeopordise your career.
What I find interesting is the public’s attitude towards doctors. When doctors talk about how tough they have it and how it’s making them go abroad where working conditions and pay are better, a lot of people say that this is heresy. A lot of people have similar attitudes towards GPs – calling them lazy and incompetent, whereas if this were even remotely true they’d be struck off or investigated. Any patient can complain about their GP for any reason and it is always investigated by the practice or referred on to the local commissioning group. If the patient is still unhappy they can complain to the national ombudsman.
Here is my argument: If a significant group of people are being vilified, who are not intentionally causing any harm to their fellow humans, the people who are vilifying them are always wrong.
If we look at history this has always been the case. Whether it be the Jews in Nazi Germany, African-Americans throughout American history, or the “Untouchables” in India.
I think that this is quite an important statement to always keep in mind when assessing how true a news story is or how valid a person’s opinion is. Whenever I hear people make negative generalisations about doctors or GPs – who consist of a large group of people whose job it is to look after others – I know that that person is just plain wrong or trying to be controversial.