Militant is a provocative word. We think of berets, extremism, soldiers and revolution;
not stethoscopes, calm rational argument, doctors and polite requests for reform.
My biggest fear is that we junior doctors aren't militant at all - I fear we are a soft-touch; ripe for the picking by people whose ideals I will never share or understand. I fear we have a fragile shell and a podgy soft underbelly. I fear we are so indoctrinated into the hierarchy of the NHS that, despite knowing in our hearts we are right and that our cause is just, we will ultimately bend to the "authority" above us. Militant? We are pussy cats!
But we could be lions....
If Jeremy Hunt offers junior doctors a genuine pay rise, with safe hours and watertight assurances that doctors will be valued and paid appropriately for hours worked then I hope we add on a single caveat and are truly "militant" in its application:
I will not sign any contract or back down one inch unless the same assurances are given to all NHS workers. I will stand in solidarity with colleagues who I respect and admire and I will not secure my own future at the expense of theirs. I will do this in the defence of the public I serve.
These assurances are necessary for the future of the NHS and they are non-negotiable. I will be militant and relentless in their pursuit.
We must make this a defining moment in the history of the NHS and this great nation we call home and show this is about more than doctors! This is about all 70 million of us - let alone the generation who came before us and so bravely defended their own values.
I cannot function without the nurses, pharmacists, physios, porters, domestics, OTs, ODPs, PAs and yes even the vilified managers, lawyers and exec. I need them and they need me. We are united by the core ideals on which the NHS was founded - free healthcare for all from cradle to grave so that illness or disability do not define our lives. An ideal that arose from the ashes of one of our darkest periods in history. A cause so right and with foundations so just that to not be militant in its defence would be a disgrace to our generation and those before us.
Being "militant" is all about context. I do not want to strike but I will as a last resort. I will strike in defiance of this government which is allowed to lie and deceive with no repercussions. I will strike for a vision of an NHS where homeopathy is side-lined because there is no evidence for it. An NHS with leaders who lead and inspire, rather than bully and intimidate. I will strike so that I can spend the next 40 years caring for those who need it most without thought for profits and share-holders. I will strike out of disdain for ignorance, greed and selfishness.
I will strike out of idealism for fairness, compassion and love.
I will do this with a heavy heart and with a keen sense of responsibility. Our consultants, who support us, will care for our patients in our place and I will be on the ward the second the strike ends to tidy up the non-urgent jobs left over.
I will not, however, be bullied or intimidated. I will not fear "authority" when their greed and self-serving actions threaten the vulnerable. I will not shy away from tough decisions or responsibility. I will not stand by and watch an ideal so beautiful in its inception crumble before my eyes. I will not be "bought" by a better contract for me when this exposes so many others to a life of misery and un-met need.
No. I will become militant, fearless and relentless in the defence of our NHS. I will stand my ground and I will fight for what I know to be right.
I will listen intently to proposed plans for reform. I will analyse and ponder. I will have the confidence and humility to admit when I am wrong and change accordingly. I will be positive and give my time and effort to ideas for change.
But my foundations shall remain solid and those who attack them should tread carefully.
We are united and galvanised at a tipping point for real change. Now we must act
The powder keg is set and ready to go. Who has a match?
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