I have been missing in action for a good couple of months. For fine reason too, a membership examination followed by a brutal rota stint that left me wondering what on earth a circadian rhythm even is. But this time out of politics has helped me to take a break from the relentless frustration I had been feeling. It also happens to have coincided with a lull in proceedings whilst all await the now inevitable crescendo of a full withdrawal of labour form of industrial action.
I am not here to comment on the ethics of such a strike. Countless column inches will be dedicated to such. All I can say is that to suggest consultants will be unable to 'cope' without juniors for nine daylight hours is incredibly patronising. But given that multiple routine clinics will have to be cancelled to release those more experienced than I, to deny any form of harm will be avoided is also naïve. It is up to each individual doctor to assess the consequence of his or her actions.
Instead, I have taken to prose to impress the long lasting effect of this newly embittered relationship for all concerned. It truly is a shame that despite a shared goal of an improved National Health Service we have seen the unilateral imposition upon, public relations battle with and strikes by a trusted profession.
For most junior doctors, this will be a first exposure to real life politics. We previously turned up to work, we tried our best, we learnt from mistakes and we wanted to improve ourselves to be the best we can to serve those we have dedicated our lives to. We had lived in a medical bubble since first leaving the family home. Sadly somehow this wrangle has indefinitely removed that bushy eyed exuberance.
Even for the hardened politicians this too will have been an unpleasant experience. A lot of personal vilification has taken place, which for any human being will have an effect and in my opinion is totally unacceptable. The government's perceived show of strength versus a militant union will also prejudice any future wrangling with the medical profession. Thus, subsequent negotiations in the years to come will begin with past misfortunes and likely escalate quickly whence an impasse is reached.
And of course it has had a negative effect on the Great British public, the patients. One could be forgiven for thinking industrial action is about wanting more money and working less Saturdays as this has been the barrage from the government spin machine. Doctors have been portrayed as the stumbling block to a seven-day NHS and believe me - this is hurtful. Others will have steadfast opinions on a full withdrawal of labour regardless of circumstances. All of this entirely avoidable shambolic mess will have eroded confidence between the public and medical profession, an aspect so sacrosanct in the doctor patient relationship. It, like all diseases, will take time to heal.
At the start of this process if you had said that I would be slightly worse off but overall this would improve the NHS in an appreciable way I would have grumbled, but ultimately accepted it and certainly not have cause to remove my services in protest of it. But the constant misrepresentation, sense of futility upon deciding our own future and the 'us versus them' mentality that has led to many grassroots uprisings will stick long in the memory.
So I fear water will not run under the bridge. The handling will live long and have far reaching influences on most everyone's conduct. Unfortunately, we do not have a memory erasing neuralyzer to reset the situation. So, the answer? Well, it has been and will always be a grown up conversation around a table.