The doctors have begun to strike back against the injustice that is MTAS.
Earlier last week they turned to David Cameron, Opposition Leader. They looked to him as a saviour, someone who would use the huge political stick that is the MTAS fiasco to beat Tony Blair on the head and secure several thousand votes. So great was the call that MTAS became the top question on Cameron's Open Blog, where the Conservative leader responds to the top 5 posts every week.
Sadly he has let them down. His response, viewable here, saw him sidestepping the issue like a Labour politician. This idiotic political move is already costing him votes, as an be seen from the responses on his blog.
But the doctors aren't done in yet! What do good, honest UK citizens do when civil rights are threatened and evil greedy government types screw them over? Why, march, of course. This Saturday's 'March in March' is hoped to raise more media pressure on the government to fix the situation.
The deaneries themselves have spoken out. Some have resigned in disgust. The Royal Colleges have condemned it. In fact, several of the UK's leading doctors have spoken out against it, including, I am proud to add, several of my lecturers here at Cambridge.
But all this is above my humble medical student head. All I know is that the future suddenly looks a lot bleaker, and unless all these angry people in white coats can convince this woman to change her mind, I'd better start looking for jobs in Australia.
So what can I do? Several things. Firstly, I've done my part to educate the international community on what is happening here in the UK by writing a post on it for Medscape. Do check it out and leave a comment or two, if only to confirm what's happening, as the editor left out the BBC news links I gave her (either that or she thinks I'm a loon, which isn't too far from the truth. --Editor).
I also blogged here about the tragic passing of Laura Case, a former medical student at Cambridge who was killed whilst delivering medical aid in Uganda. Her father has written to me with a heartfelt letter that he has sent to The Times, saying how Laura disagreed with the current system of training junior doctors:
Laura Case, was a medical student who was killed in while working there in a hospital as part of her final year training. (Times 20 February). Uganda
Like most medical students, she was committed, but not particularly idealistic. Nor was she political. She was, though, angry about the failings in the training and selection of junior doctors. Admittedly her experience was only her own hospital area, but she thought the central organisation and supervision of her training poor, and when on six weekly rotations round various hospitals and GP practices found, with some notable exceptions, that students’ training was often chaotically organised, and students tolerated rather than involved. The view of senior doctors seemed to be that it was better now than when they were young, so ‘get used to it’
She found the failure of government to plan effectively for the requirement for doctors dispiriting, as it lurched from creating new medical colleges, and then in the face of ‘overcapacity’ ditching non EU doctors that had been encouraged to train here, and now admitting an oversupply of newly trained doctors due to ‘changes in the system’. The actual selection process, which has been marginally improved from last year when humans were more or less replaced by computers in selecting junior doctors for posts, is still so useless that a group of consultants recently refused to conduct job interviews on the grounds that the process was unfair. (Times 6 March).
The Department of Health and
Downing Streetboth defend the position with weasel words, but junior doctors, not usually a militant bunch, are so incensed that they will stage a march on March 17th to protest at the position. (www.remedyuk.org). My daughter was well aware of the cost of her training both in terms of taxpayer money and her six years of study; let’s hope many more join the thousands of young doctors planning to march to highlight this cavalier handling of investment and talent, and the government’s inadequate response to the problem.
The medical profession has spoken. We will not stand for dictatorial high-handedness with a policy that looks like it was dreamt up by a bunch of baboons in a doughnut shop with John Prescott. Like this comment says from a friend of Laura's:
Compassion is fine but Laura would have wanted you to fight. Stick a card in front of the complacent - 'Laura Case died because she cared enough to be a doctor.'