This afternoon a doctor made a comment about the strike that got me thinking, and therefore I decided to pen a few ideas; and for this please excuse my excursion from the normal line of the blog.
In two days the trade unions have called a general strike; the second in more or less one year.
How many will follow the strike? Will the strike have any effect? Will it cause the local and national governments here in Spain to tack stock and change tack.
These are the questions ringing in the ears at present, but the answers do not follow suit. Nobody really knows. The pragmatists or realists will say that the strike will have no effect, and in actual fact might have a counter-productive effect.
The outcome is not known, is uncertain but the reasons behind the strike are obvious to see. The strike comes as an action, of one sort or another, to demonstrate the people’s disapproval of the local and national government’s policy of austerity. The governors will say that austerity is necessary; “you have to get your house in order”, “you mustn’t spend more than you have”. Fair enough you might say. and pushed you might concede that some kind of fiscal limitations might be necessary, but to this extent? To the exclusion of all else?
Cuts, cuts, cuts and more cuts. Where is this getting us? Families living on the edge, women committing suicide, foreigners being cut off from healthcare. We are going down a dangerous path, which is cutting at the very fabric of the welfare state and jeopardising the Spanish society. Some might say that this is the point and that the crisis is not really a crisis but a political move. Perhaps.
The strike is demonstrating against all this, and what about doctors? Public health has been hit, and is still being hit very hard. All in the health system is feeling the pinch, and none more so than the doctors, so what should they do? Strike and doctors has always seemed to be to a tricky equation.
The Good Medical Practice published by the GMC states “Make the care of your patient your first concern”, and this is the key.
Doctors are responsible; their work is dedicated to healing and curing and saving lives; a more nobler profession would be hard to find, and more often than not their work is vocational, otherwise who could explain the hours spent and the reward received. And so more often than not doctors will NOT go on strike even though they feel very deeply about what is happening to their Public Health Service. Their duty is to work and continue to help people. Unfortunately, politicians and those leading us, who the cynical might say have a less vocational approach to their work, know this and take this into account on too many occasions. Far too many occasions.