The Junior Doctor Strikes have gone ahead as planned today, but the impact of the January picketing is still being felt by patients in Dorset.
Former nurse, Mary Hurst, worked at Boscombe and Poole Hospitals during her professional career and she says that even non-emergency procedures being cancelled has a profound effect on people, as she has found herself.
She said, “The January strike delayed my operation, which is desperately needed. I already had the operation rescheduled from December when ECG complications meant I needed to see a heart specialist, an appointment which was confirmed and then cancelled just a day before it was due to take place. Although it may not be considered an emergency, this is affecting my life considerably so I am not too happy with the doctors at the moment – even though they have my sympathy to a certain extent. They probably do not realise that even by cancelling non urgent appointments, it has a serious knock-on effect as in my case. I could now be put back at the bottom of the operation list, and God only knows when I am likely to have that now – when I had been led to believe it would have been all over before last Christmas. I am angry with Jeremy Hunt for blocking the way forward. I have always said that politicians who are in charge of a particular sector – such as Health, or Defence etc. – should have had work experience in the background of the speciality they are covering. They cannot possibly understand the doctors’ position without having worked within the NHS in some capacity.”
But Dr Joshua Gaon, the BMA representative for Bournemouth Hospital said, “the government haven’t been able to agree with us on working hours and patient safety, and unfortunately it has meant that this second strike is a last resort.”
An extract of his full interview is available in the video below.
Teacher Sara Kemp had a similarly frustrating experience when her operation was cancelled during the previous strikes.
She said, “the most annoying part of it being cancelled was the frustration of not knowing until the evening before. I understand they wanted to make sure that if the strike was called off they could go ahead. The delay has meant an extra week of not working, because I’m self employed and I’d arranged everything around the surgery, so I feel a lot of anger towards those debating whether they should be paid more for Saturdays amongst other things. I don’t get paid extra for weekend work and most people that I know don’t. In my experiences of the hospital they are desperate to discharge you on a Friday, so they don’t have too many patients in over the weekend, due to lack of staff, whether that’s in the interest of the patient or not. I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the doctors as I do think striking, as well as current practice, puts patients at risk. The doctor who discharged me never sent the discharge letter to my GP and didn’t put my full name or any dates on my sick note. This meant it wasn’t accepted by the DWP – which would have taken two minutes to do correctly. I feel it was just laziness”.
Video: Dr Joshua Gaon’s take on the strikes.