Strike having little effect on patients
Thursday, 21 June 2012
Despite Andrew Lansley’s repeated condemnation of doctors taking industrial action today over pensions and ‘penalising patients’, there is little evidence so far of large-scale disruption, the BBC has reported.
The health secretary hit out at doctors once again on the BBC this morning, arguing that doctors were wrong to hit patient care and that the BMA were failing to recognise economic realities. He said: “I can’t see why anybody thinks there is any benefit in penalising patients. It won’t serve any purpose whatsoever.”
But the BMA had pledged that its members would do everything they could to minimise the impact on patients – Hamish Meldrum reiterated in his BBC interview this morning “We are making patient safety an absolute priority” – and it seems that the BMA’s promise is being kept.
The BBC reports that many GPs and consultants are working completely normally, while in some general practices most doctors are seeing emergency cases only. Even in those practices where industrial action is being taken, contributors to the BMA blog write that patients seem to be largely supportive of their protest. One, Duncan Williams from Amman Valley practice in South Wales, said: “So far today, an exceptionally quiet morning and many messages of support from patients with zero negative comments. Does this mean our patients support our stance despite all the negative press?”
Glasgow GP Georgina Brown, vice-chair of Glasgow LMC, told Pulse she had had a similar experience. She said that there were fewer urgent cases than normal: “Patients are not cheating the system. Most have said they will phone back the following day. A handful said it was urgent, but we helped them over the phone, as we would on any other day.”
But doctors’ support for the action remains far from universal, even among those angry at the Government’s backtracking on the 2008 pensions deal. Alan King from Hampshire sent a text to the BBC saying: “Dr Meldrum and the BMA put a very poor case for the medical profession’s position. As a GP, I am as disgruntled as anyone about the unfairness of these pension changes coming on after the 2008 deal and the Government’s assurances at the time. However I want nothing to do with this ill-judged action for which there is no public support. As usual, the BMA has failed in the PR department.”