It is a commonly held belief that Doctors take an oath to do no harm, that those immortal words from Hippocrates are enthusiastically belted out by all newly qualified doctors and then, wide eyed, stethoscope in hand, we go out into the world with it at the forefront of our minds.
Well, it's not true.
Don't believe me? Ask the next doctor you meet to recite the oath, and if they blag it with "First do no harm" you can leap up and scream "LIAR LIAR GREEK PANTS ON FIRE". That well known phrase isn't in the oath anywhere. This is perhaps no more than some good trivia to wind up your doctor friends, but in the modern "always on" world, at what point does mis-information become harmful?
In 2015, the realities of "post-truth politics" began to hit home for Junior Doctors. Politicians began commenting on all matters NHS with such authority that it had to be true, right? Junior doctors may work in the system, but trust your politicians with the oversight of this national treasure, they know best. The media liked this rhetoric and suddenly we were "Moet medics", attacked from all sides, and left desperate in our attempts to send the message that the realities of a 21st century NHS in crisis are very different.
We need a 7 day NHS? Yes Jeremy, we already have one. I just worked nights, at the weekend and I wasn't alone. I will be working Christmas eve and Christmas day as well. The NHS has always been and always will be a seven day service.
Greedy Junior Doctors? No Jeremy, politicians took the 11% pay rise. You blocked ours.
Avoidable Weekend Mortality proven by research? The very paper quoted concludes "to assume they are avoidable would be rash and misleading". So nonsense then.
£350m a week for NHS post-brexit? Boris et al owe us £7 billion to date. What funding crisis?
These examples are a drop in an ocean of lies, lies and more lies. It is astounding to NHS Staff that such misinformation is swallowed by the media and public. "Why don't people get it?" is the cry from many an exhausted junior doctor. You see, we've published papers to counter the arguments: written newspaper articles, been on TV, written to MPs, even pleaded to the Obamas on their state visit...a year later, nothing has changed and we are hanging by a thread and we can't work out why no one gets it.
Sometimes it takes a couple of pints and a good friend to open your eyes. "They don't get it mate because it's boring. TLDR"
"TLDR?" I ask, slightly scared of the answer.
"Too long, Didn't read. Boring. You, my friend, need a simple message..."
It appears in our modern world you have an ever-shrinking window to make your point. People are busy. Lesson learned.
Enter #NHSPostit. Succinct insights into our working lives in the NHS scrawled on a bit of paper with a vision to educate and persuade because politicians lie: doctors don't. Do you think we would fight this fight unless we had to?
So, if we have to catch your attention and persuade you one #NHSPostIt at a time then consider it a challenge accepted, but promise me this: if we win you over despite a political system and a mainstream media aligned against us, then come and stand with us as we fight for the future of the NHS. Deal?
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