Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Empire Is Struck Back Against

Aboard the MTAS Death Star, Emperor Blair and Darth Hewitt find that the Force is no longer with them

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.

Doctors wait in vain for David Cameron to save them

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:

My daughter, Laura Case, was a medical student who was killed in Uganda while working there in a hospital as part of her final year training. (Times 20 February).

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 Street both 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.'

21 comments:

the little medic said...

Great post dude. Was starting to wonder where you'd got to.

I hope that letter is/has been published in the times.

I'd really like to join the protest in London at the weekend but I can't afford to get there. I'll be there in spirit though.

Chrysalis Angel said...

What a mess it all sounds like. When I read about the health system in the U.K. it makes my head spin. It just doesn't make any sense to me. Wishing you well medic.

The Angry Medic said...

Little Medic: Aww thanks mate. I was MIA for a while due to a confidence crisis in my medical career, but I'm back now. Things are going to be a bit slow here...I'm still not entirely convinced I still wanna do medicine. But don't worry, I've been keeping up with your blog :)

Chrysalis Angel: Hey, your comment made it through this time! I'm sorry if my comments pages don't work for you; I honestly have no idea why, and I do so enjoy receiving your kind words. And to be honest, the health system doesn't make sense to me either. Though whether that's actually because it's messed up or because MY head is messed up, I really don't know :P

HospitalPhoenix said...

Don't worry about messed up heads - they're apr for the course at medical school. Perfectly normal.

Just don't start thinking about it too hard...

Hope things are going well over there (or better than they were anyway).

HospitalPhoenix said...

...par for the course...

HospitalPhoenix said...

...par for the course...

HospitalPhoenix said...

Oops, it took me about 8 tries to get the comments box to pop up, and now I'm spamming you. Oh well, making up for lost time...

Eugene Lau said...

I see that just a single comment that you haven't been blogging for a while is sufficient to make you blog. Interesting. The next time I need to have something interesting to read, I will 'inform' you that you haven't blogged for a while. Have fun at the end of term!

dan said...

why does eugene sound like a supervisor when he writes comments on your blog?

Kenny Mah said...

I'm not sure I entirely understand the whole issue, but it's admirable how you guys are standing up to fight for something you believe in.

It's sad to hear, though, that you are no longer convinced you still want to do medicine. We need doctors with conscience, not just the medical expertise. It'd be a shame to lose another good one. :(

dan said...

i agree with kenny. no other profession needs a conscience as much as medicine does. a lot of others require you to shut off your conscience. i shall not name any professions here, for fear of being pelted with rotten eggs the next time i exit my room :P

Anonymous said...

love the pictures mate!

Anonymous said...

see? he only like piccies, dont like words. put less words in your e-mails!

The Angry Medic said...

HospitalPhoenix: Why, you can spam my inbox anytime, baby.

Heh. But yes, leaving fifty comments after not having said anything for my past fifty posts is perfectly acceptable. As long as you're alive, and continue to read my bitchy complaining emails and give me advice that doesn't contain the words "go jump off a bridge" :)

Eugene: Actually, all you need to do is either 1)tell me my blog is great or 2)tell me the course at Cambridge is great, and you enjoy obsessing about which lipoxygenase molecule does what. It's usually enough to prod me into writing up a rant here :)

Dan: I like to move it move it.

(No, that doesn't make sense. Yes, that's the only coherent reply I can form right now. Blame the Cambridge course for causing irreversible brain damage to me.)

Kenny Mah: It's just a phase I'm going through...hopefully I'll find my sacred calling/chosen vocation/way to let off steam and keep sane sometime during the rest of this course. Thanks for the kind words though.

Anonymous 1: Why thank you. I spent hours on the pics that I should have spent emulating my insane coursemates whose only joy in life is being able to recall drug names that sound more like Klingon family names from Star Trek.

Anonymous 2: Ouch! Hey, I get to be the sarcastic smartarse around here, okay?

Dan said...

ok ok... so i will attempt to form a very annoying comment to annoy you and thus prompt you to put up more posts. :P

i love the cambridge medicine course! it rocks! theory is the way to go. if you dunno what you are doing, then you might as well not do it. so you need theory.

i hope they introduce more mathematics into your course to make it more theoretical. right now all i see is some integration of some exponential function and crap. you need to be hard core and calculate stuff like the head loss, pressure difference and mass transfer rates of a syringe when you are injecting someone! then you can REALLY know what is going on behind the scenes.

who cares how to do it. as long as you know the finer details of the fluid flow mechanism of the process. yesssss...

mathematics in medicine! petition for it now!

PS: i have gotten over the gorgeous medic i met the other day. yes. now i am home free to do whatever i want! yay! more computer programming for me!!!!

The Angry Medic said...

Dan: There. See my above post. You happy now?

Girls suck. They're a waste of time. If you want reproduction, do maths. 1+1=2. There. Short and simple.

Prof Scrub said...

Dear Gold leader,

Have you visited MMcDonalds yet? The fillet of fish is to die for.

Prof Scrub

The Angry Medic said...

You're back!

Loved the MMcDonalds post (and said so on your site). Glad you're back...the vomit bucket was getting worryingly empty around the blogosphere :)

DundeeMedStudent said...

well well comedy and an artist too, whatever next for the multi-talented Angry medic.

Garth Marenghi said...

loving the work, it's keeping me smiling in this time where I often feel more like breaking my skull open on my keyboard,
may the force be with you fighting those evil powers

The Angry Medic said...

DundeeMedStudent: Aww, thanks for the compliment. (Notice how my skill set doesn't exactly correspond with that expected of a doctor? You may be right about the whole Harry Hill thing...) And don't try to be modest. Every time I see your display pic I chuckle :)

Garth: I'm glad I can still make you chuckle in these sad times. I've been following your blog. I hope things are looking up for you. Chin up mate, it's what I'm doing too :)