Dear Mr Hunt,
I am a junior doctor - such letters I am sure your team are sick of - you may even have read a few yourself. I am sure, however, that they more likely line the litter tray of your obligatory evil villain white cat than they do your MP's inbox.
I am a junior doctor Mr Hunt but here's a new angle for you. I will not be quitting my job, I will not be moving to Australia or New Zealand, and I will remain as an NHS doctor. You may read this and mis-interpret it (I've been warned about this) as me being happy with the contracts. "Finally a doctor who has seen the light" may be your cry. Please, for once, concentrate on what is to come.....
You see Mr Hunt I am an idealist - I am sure you see yourself as the same but I sense we are far from peas in a pod. Here is what lies at my core: I believe in the NHS. I believe in free healthcare from cradle to grave. I believe in empathy and holistic care (no not homeopathic care!). I believe in evidence based medicine and facts. I believe we should have ideas rather than beliefs. Ideas lend themselves to subtle shades of grey which dominate my working life - flexible, changeable.....erasable. The black and white of beliefs provides no assistance in my day to day - I need to be comfortable with being wrong and moving forward. I have found a job that I love and a workplace that pushes me everyday to fulfil every aspect of my potential. I love it! And Mr Hunt - from here is where you need to concentrate - I am not about to let you take that from me and I am certainly not about to let you take it from my patients and colleagues.
Mr Hunt, listen closely. The narrative so far is that your contract imposition will decimate our junior doctor workforce. As far as I am told you have created a demoralised, depressed and desperate workforce who will collapse like a flan in a cupboard. We are all booking flights to Australia or applying for fast food management jobs.
Well what if that isn't true?
What if you have underestimated some of the brightest, resilient and articulate minds in this wonderful country and failed to realise that the one thing we lacked was true unity behind a cause? What if, Mr Hunt, your biggest mistake is failing to realise that the consultants' "strike" in 2012 over pensions has left them wounded and spoiling for a fight? What if we stop threatening to leave and instead we threaten to unite against this government's plan for our NHS? What if we pledge to give ourselves to solving the problem that is the NHS for the good of every soul on this island we call home? What if you knew about all the grassroots meetings that are going on in doctors' offices up and down the country?
What if, Mr Hunt, we are uniting behind Nye Bevan's famous quote: the NHS "will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it". What if your actions are galvanising that faith in the fifth largest workforce in the world? What if all those people are at tipping point to really fight for it?
What if Mr Hunt....What if....
Do you think the nurses, physios, occupational therapists, radiographers, porters, patient groups and general public will unite with us when we put our collective thought process behind disproving your lies and showing your true colours? You better believe we are stirring that cauldron.
You perceive you will win because we aren't media trained, because we don't do spin, and because you have direct influence over our employers. How many times a day Mr Hunt do you think we face problems that at the face of it seem unsurmountable? How long do you think it will take us to figure out what will be effective in this fight? How long before we change and dominate the narrative with truth, honesty, compassion and resolve? If you are actually an intelligent man, and aren't blinded by your hubris, then I sense these should be the questions that are keeping you awake at night.
I presented to 100 doctors last night Mr Hunt and I stuck to one simple ideal - we are underestimating ourselves as much as you are underestimating us. I talked of planning for life after you have moved on because this is about more than our contracts - this is about the future of our NHS and about removing political meddling from the gem that is the NHS.
Like you Mr Hunt I tend to only read the abstract and then make it fit my argument - so let me summarise.....
I am not depressed, demoralised or desperate - I am past that. I will not spend my evenings looking at jobs in Australia, I will not quit my job or move professions, but hear us loud and clear that we will not let our NHS be ruined by greed and ignorance.
I will spend my free time writing letters that may never get published, meeting with MPs who may never get to speak to you, and defending ideals that may ultimately see my heart broken. I will do this because it is right and because I trust the British people to ultimately stand with us and fight for future generations as they did so bravely when the NHS was formed.
What if I am not the only one who feels this way Mr Hunt.........what if?
Dr Chris James