Once upon a time, in a hospital far away, a frustrated junior doctor suddenly found himself in very hot water. Dr Scot Jnr – as he became known – had expressed himself vigorously – exceedingly vigorously – on a doctors-only forum. He had even dared to call the great and the good in his profession Richards. Even before anyone had time to cry ‘Foul!’, let alone Code Brown, red lights were flashing in Deaneries up and down the land. Deans – senior doctors responsible for junior doctors training – got on their hot-lines, and then their high horses, and before anyone could say appendicectomy – Scot Jnr was said to be a surgeon – he had been suspended.
All these events happened before Dr No started blogging, but not before he had started reading medical blogs, so he knows only too well what happened next. A number of prominent medical bloggers of the time including Rita Pal, Dr Rant and the Witch Doctor, made it crystal clear that they took a very dim view of a junior doctor being suspended for using colourful language on a limited – the public do not have access – doctors-only forum. The fact that Scottie’s loudly aired complaints had nothing to do with patients, or patient care, but everything to do with the way senior members of his profession had trashed his and thousands of other junior doctors’ training figured large. It became a matter of free speech. Few publicly welcomed Scottie’s tone, but all defended his freedom to speak his mind. Had Dr No been blogging at the time, he would have said the same thing.
A bun-fight ensued. Buns were launched in the air as scarves at a football match. Before long, so many buns were in the air that the truth in the sky became obscured. Medicine’s Guy Fawkes, disguised as Rita Pal, stashed kegs of powder under Deaneries, and lit 360 degree feedback fuses. An Almighty Bang was moments away – and then suddenly Scottie was back at work. Dr No does not know how or why that happened. It seemed that the matter, distasteful as it had been, was over. One imagined Scottie was back to doing expert appendicectomies, no doubt airing some colourful language as he did so. The matter appeared to have died a natural, if awkward, death.
All that was a long time ago, in a hospital far away…and so it was with some surprise that Dr No became aware that in the last week the very Dean implicated in spiking Scottie’s operations for a while had published an apologia in none other than the British Medical Journal. The full text is tiresomely hidden behind a paywall, but even the freely available extract strikes a curious tone.
We have – in the freely available extract – the Dean out to lunch at a facilitation bash. She is alerted to Scottie’s behaviour, by email, and even while still out of the office, and quite ignorant of detail (she forwards the email to one of her team for further exploration), she knows that Scottie ‘surely needs help’. This is email diagnosis taken a forwarding too far.
The full text – those without access will have to beg steal or borrow it from a friendly doctor – consolidates these curious tones. There is a lot of duty of care guff (Dr No doesn’t do ‘duty of care’ – he leaves that to the lawyers – he just cares – or not, as the case may be); and then whingeing about being a victim; of being unable to speak out; professionalism in question; just following what I had to do. Etc.
Dr No will come back to Eichmann Reloaded. For now it seems ironical that the woman who a long time ago, in a hospital far away, who knew so ‘surely’ that Dr Scot Jnr needed help, should suddenly decide years later to offer a pressing apologia. Far be it from Dr No to even suggest that this is a woman who ‘surely needs help’, let alone a Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.