Not so long ago, a misguided government, aided by Collegiate lackeys, ruined medical training, in the disaster known as MMC/MTAS. The anger amongst junior doctors was as justified as it was palpable. One particular junior nailed his colours – those colours being rich and brown – to the mast, in a doctors’ only forum. Snooping eyes started, smarted and then popped, and ordered that Scot Jnr – as the doctor became known – be taken out. The ensuing scandal was dubbed Jobbygate, and has continued to rumble on. More widely, a group of juniors formed Remedy UK, but, sadly, Remedy has so far achieved little in the way of a remedy. Today, four years after MMC/MTAS was unleashed, medical training remains in tatters, morale blown, and the contempt for and loathing towards Collegiate lackeys as potent as ever.
One might hope that those in the top drawers of the Medical Colleges had learnt that failing to block foolish government reforms was itself foolish; but any such notion appears to have passed them by. Hamish McKissinger’s sherry-and-biscuits do, planned for this evening to unite professional opposition to the Health and Social Care Bill, has yet to happen, but already Medical Colleges are falling over themselves to distance their position from one of outright rejection of the Bill – as adopted by the RCN, RCM and BMA – to one of guarded cooperation.
The choice of whether to appease or oppose is a familiar one. Should we be Chamberlain, or should we be Churchill? Evolution, or revolution? More often than not, of course, jaw-jaw is better than war-war. But, in our rush to avoid bloodshed, we should not forget that, to work, a Chamberlainian approach requires the other side to listen, to be reasonable, and be prepared to change.
And, sadly, there is no evidence whatsoever that the pro-market zealots who are behind the Bill are capable of genuine listening, let alone being reasonable, or demonstrating a willingness to change. La La may have listened to His Master’s Voice, a voice so faithfully recorded and played back on the Future Forum gramophone, but he has closed his ears to the massed voices of the members of the RCN and BMA, and the countless others who have opposed the Bill from the bottom of their hearts. There may or may not have been some tinkering at the edges of the Bill; if there has, its substantive effects are difficult to discern. The core elements of the Bill remain in firmly in place, unchanged.
Appeasing, even collaborating, with zealots is never wise, for the forces of zealotry are invariably dark. The shabby stain of Collegiate appeasement and collaboration with the engineers of MMC and MTAS is still in the profession all too evident today, even if largely unnoticed by patients and the public. Appeasing, even collaborating with, what will – on this Dr No has no doubt – lead in short order to the wholesale destruction of the NHS as we know and love, and, yes, sometimes resent, even hate, it is not just unwise, it is reckless and foolish.
As the great and the good of the Medical Colleges hear the tinkle of manzanilla on crystal this evening, they may wish to reflect that it will indeed be MTAS Reloaded if they persist in not opposing reckless and foolish government NHS reforms; only this time round, it wont be the anger of a few thousand junior doctors, but the anger of millions of patients and the public at large, loaded and aimed at the those whose recklessness and foolishness opened the door to the end of our comprehensive, universal NHS.