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01-07-2012 | Article

What next after industrial action?

Doctors are encouraged to continually learn and reflect on their work and to incorporate new experiences, situations and knowledge in their practice, in the likelihood this will produce a better doctor and better outcomes for patients. This is a sign of good professionalism and something we understand within the clinical realm. So, applying these principles to our recent industrial action ‑ what did we learn? Well, time will tell, but here are my views for those interested in the debate.

I was against the idea of industrial action. On a practical level, I doubt if we would get much public support when there is so much pain and austerity in the economy, especially as we are well paid and have good pensions compared with the average worker. Our industrial muscle is limited and I think we have picked a fight we are unlikely to win. However, we did generate considerable publicity and although there was plenty of criticism of our actions, there was also some support and understanding for our cause.

Even so, after this day of industrial action where do we go next? Well the first clues have emerged, as reported in the univadis GP News (click here). The article stated: "BMA leaders yesterday urged a cautious approach to any future action in the dispute over pension reforms." An interesting quote in the same article, from outgoing BMA Chair Dr Hamish Meldrum, was: "However angry we are, however hard done by we feel, however much we feel our cause is just, we cannot and we must not lose the trust of the public." There may even be more talks with the government (click here).

I think that is the right approach. We have made our point, but it still remains unclear where this campaign is heading. Perhaps one campaign we could link up with is that reported in another univadis GP News article (click here). The Royal College of GPs, according to the article, wants "greater recognition of the 'vital' role of medical generalism in securing the future of the NHS". Count me in for this.

Best wishes,


Dr Harry Brown, editor-in-chief Univadis

By Dr Harry Brown