As the dust settles on the revelation that the government used the Paris attacks to gain political advantage in the junior contract debate I have torn through a multitude of feelings. The most pressing being the anger at the absence of any form of surprise, possibly the most damning indictment of this whole debacle to date. Like many other junior doctors this has been my first real meaningful foray into politics. It is safe to say it has been far from pleasurable as I have oft been left bemused, frustrated and disillusioned.
The gnawing question throughout this process has been that if both sides truly wish to improve the NHS - the institution I have effectively dedicated my life to - why is it proving so difficult?
As doctors we are expected to run quality audits and service improvement projects in our spare time. We also rotate round hospitals to enable the cherry picking of useful concepts and help roll them out locally, or if exceptionally efficient nationally. We want and work tirelessly for the best for our patients. Politicians state they wish for the NHS to be pioneering and world leading. Both seemingly harbour the congruent visions of improved patient care and for the NHS to be envy of the rest of the world. So why if we have this shared goal am I being made to feel like I am the stumbling block to the evolution and betterment of our health service?
During this political learning curve I have tried to make sense of our system. These people are the elected elite of our country and have been trusted with representing the public in order to form meaningful and constructive discussion. Sadly, I have sat and analysed parliamentary debates and all too often I have witnessed pointless and misinformed statements aimed at political point scoring against opposing parties. I therefore have to question the underlying motives, as some are quite clearly more interested in cheap shots to enhance their political career rather than contributing to the topic at hand.
This spin and dedication to party politics in preference to productive exchanges too often overspills. The childish jeering and shouting over colleagues is both shocking and embarrassing. If I was to behave in such a manner I would be branded unprofessional and be hauled in front of the GMC. Where is their accountability?
A further area of concern is that the person who has overall responsibility for health, regardless of political party, is someone who has no training or background in the profession. This to me simply does not compute. Why is someone who has a degree in philosophy, politics and economics telling me what is right for the future of medicine? At this point I cast an envious eye towards Canada. Guess what the profession of their Minister of Health is... A General Practitioner. Seems a bit too logical.
Everything is topped off by the underhand tactics so engrained within politics. Tarnishing attacks, sensationalism and headline chasing seem to be the virtues with which policy is created. Currently it seems the vilified, vocation lacking and selfish doctor is the only hurdle to the perfect healthcare system. However, when you assimilate the information and understand the ulterior motives, it is quite apparent the exact opposite is true.
I just hope the public can recognise who the real obstacle is.