Recently, I read a blog post by a rather dashing young man who works for a leading IT company. It was entitled "Only you are responsible for your failure". The post detailed the patience of a dedicated, intelligent, talented and hard working professional who placed his trust and faith in his employers. The narrative describes the gradual realisation that he was essentially being used. The stark reality of the psycho-socioeconomic impact of being undervalued is something many employees relate to. He develops the tale by narrating the impact of a lower than average salary, the effects of peer pressure and essentially being left behind despite his integrity, dedication and sacrifices.
The post struck a chord with me because the blogger details the mistreatment of a person who makes up the backbone of an organisation and contributes to its development and reputation. It reminded me of the many years I suffered in silence while I was undermined, character assassinated, undervalued and insulted throughout my time in the National Health Service [NHS]. My past cannot be changed, forgotten, edited or erased; it can only put aside and accepted. This is the kind of emotional pain that we as doctors cannot demonstrate to the world out there. To the public, we are all supposed to be super-human and life savers. The NHS is like every large organisation. The people who work hard to maintain it are essentially hamsters in a large wheel who are immediately replaceable. It prioritises its economics and forgets that demoralising their staffs is not going to encourage staff retention or recruitment. My experience is this - there is no basic respect, decorum, empathy, consideration, basic assistance or kindness within the employment hierarchy of the NHS.
In 2008, the Healthcare Commission's annual survey of National Health Service staff found that employees felt undervalued and vulnerable so my experience is not unusual. Working for the NHS was a bit like throwing all your best years for a budget obsessed employer who believed, I, like many of my colleagues were disposable.
Problems faced by ordinary NHS staff can be demonstrably magnified when observing the cases of whistleblowers' fates. The bad treatment of whistleblowers in the NHS is basically due to the long term flaws that exist within the NHS system. Doctors' rights are not respected by the establishment - as demonstrated by the MMC fiasco. The current pension's furore is another example of how doctors feel undervalued. Other problems such as bullying and victimisation as well as discrimination are endemic in the NHS. These issues have remained uncorrected and brushed under the establishment carpets only to be briefly spotted in fleeting court judgments that few pay attention to. The rest of the staff suffer in silence and quietly tolerate the bad treatment meted out on them for the sake of their livelihoods.
Dr David Lewis recently tweeted as follows
"NHS needs wake up call. Good people are needed in medicine"
I believe that I am a good person who worked hard, stayed up all hours treating patients, covered for colleagues, did government waiting list initiatives, worked above and beyond the call of duty -all without additional pay. I received flawless references but yet I am effectively unemployable. For my evidence based whistleblowing, the NHS, General Medical Council and the Department of Health rewarded me with unemployability, repeated character assassinations, the destruction of my pension rights not to mention the assassination of my financial earning potential and professional development. The negative impact to the NHS is a loss of a competent doctor, the waste of tax payers' funds in educating me and negative effects on the NHS' reputation indirectly affecting employee retention and recruitment. I am effectively a doctor who was quickly replaceable and forgotten.
The economics of these institutions appears to take priority over individual employee welfare. Those who are undervalued here and abroad, those whose best years are ripped out of them by companies for pitiful pay - are the quiet voices in the wilderness caught in the cyclone of prioritised financial incentives. The last resolve left is to blame ourselves for faithfully believing in the false promises of the corporations who employ us. "Only you are responsible for your failure" demonstrates the personal conflict we all face when trying to accept that we have been misled, mistreated and effectively used because we once had blind faith in organisations that effectively failed us. We are the silent casualties that played our part in creating the backbone of these flourishing organisations. As they say "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished".
With gratitude and thanks to the highly intelligent and insightful Mr Gajendra Ambi for giving me the courage to write the above.
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