Letters: Strike could prove doctors are redundant

The following letters appear in the 20 November edition of The Independent .


Independent Voices@IndyVoices
Thursday 19 November 2015 20:02
Sir Robert said that Jeremy Hunt and the government had mishandled talks with junior doctors
Sir Robert said that Jeremy Hunt and the government had mishandled talks with junior doctors

By voting for strike action next month, in the middle of the winter illness season, and in the face of the threat of terrorist attacks against British cities, junior doctors have in effect struck themselves off. Offloading their caseloads on to consultants and hard-pressed locums, and adding to the huge burden of care already taken by nurses and care assistants, shows arrogance verging on hubris.

Loss of professional standing and public goodwill aside, a strike may also prove counterproductive to physicians, in a modern healthcare system. Already, much day-to-day hands-on care is increasingly done by non-medical professions, often with greater experience and more qualifications than many junior doctors. Radiographers and specialist nurses “do” when doctors diagnose, all without groaning. The long-term solution may be to give nurse practitioners and other grades greater diagnosing and prescribing powers, if junior doctors cannot cope with a more than decent salary and years of formative, invaluable experience funded by the taxpayer and patient.

The strike may also backfire by proving that the NHS can cope without them, not because other colleagues can “rally round” but because it may prove that healthcare no longer revolves around a man or woman in a white coat with a stethoscope around their neck. Within 20 years, junior doctors may find themselves kicking their heels, as health apps, robot-driven diagnosis and highly qualified nurses do most of their current work.

Anthony Rodriguez

Staines, Middlesex

In the light of the decision in favour of strike action by junior doctors, and before everybody starts talking about patients being put at risk, can I ask that the public don’t believe everything that comes out of Jeremy Hunt’s mouth?

Some facts are indisputable: some doctors are going to lose out financially, some doctors are going to lose the safeguards against working over-long hours and patients are going to be put at risk by Hunt’s actions, not those of the BMA.

He is notoriously opposed to the NHS and wants private healthcare contracts for individuals. He cannot be trusted.

Terry Maunder


You can’t beat Isis by bombing

Jeremy Corbyn may not at first glance appear to be a stereotypical military strategist, but he appears to have a better understanding of winning a war than David Cameron, who seems to identify with the Lord Cardigan approach.

If this is a war, or more correctly an ongoing conflict, then it can only be successfully concluded by cutting off your enemy’s supply lines and strangling his means of continuing the fight.

If our intelligence services cannot name the countries and financial institutions that provide Isis with its resources they should raise their game and buy a newspaper. International action against those named would enable local forces to defeat this vile faction.

This is the only way forward and infinitely preferable to bombing, which is driven by the “must be seen to do something” group but ultimately will as always result in civilian deaths, Isis propaganda and the radicalisation of more young individuals.

John Dillon


David Cameron gravely misjudges many in the UK if he imagines it is acceptable to commit the country to military action in Syria, particularly without a UN mandate.

Can he really be unaware how similar, almost verbatim, he is sounding to the ill-starred Tony Blair, the consequences of whose destabilising, terror-attracting errors remain?

Peace can never come of perpetual war. Increase humanitarian aid, yes. Bring terror suspects to legal justice, denying them martyr status, yes. But no to endless war.

Christina Bryan


Don’t bar refugees who depend on us

I agree with Alistair Dawber’s article “Refugees in search of a safe haven have found their own hopes blown apart” (18 November). It seems that, as a direct response to the recent attacks, we are returning to an original Westphalian order of state sovereignty where the principle of humanity is irrelevant.

In re-evaluating the Schengen Agreement we are backtracking our advances. Although the recent attacks have been devastating for the people of Paris, closing national boundaries to migrants with lives at risk is a violation of human rights, and I fear for the well-being of those fleeing conflicts who depend on Europe for escape.

Louisa Pudney

Newcastle upon Tyne

Following the attacks in Paris, concern has been raised about the security risks posed by refugees. May I make a suggestion? Prioritise gay refugees if we want a quick way of minimising the likelihood of future jihadism among those we take in. It is inconceivable that a genuinely gay person will ever become a supporter of Isis or their like. Similarly, it seems doubtful that jihadists would risk pretending to be gay in order to hoodwink vetting procedures.

There are other advantages to taking more from this group, including the lower likelihood of children and impact on public services, and a far greater appreciation of and commitment to, western values of tolerance and diversity.

The Rev Neil Dawson

London SW16

What if the City of London is flooded?

The Chief Executive of Oil and Gas UK claims that the industry has “never been in receipt of government subsidy” (letter, 18 November). Well, that might be true of direct subsidies, but the fossil fuel industry has been using the atmosphere as a free dumping ground for its waste products for over 200 years, and it is society that is paying for the consequences.

Earlier this year the IMF calculated this cost at $5.3trn annually, of which one quarter is attributable to the effects of climate change on agriculture, and the rest to the medical costs of outdoor air pollution. Even this figure, however, does not capture the enormity of what is likely to happen with unchecked global warming.

For example, the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet is already showing signs of irreversible decline, and when that dissolves sea levels will rise by 20 feet. Greenland will add another 23 feet. So how does the City of London, or the New York Stock Exchange compute the financial costs of burning fossil fuels when they are both 13 metres under water.

The problem was best expressed by Tim Wirth, Undersecretrary of State for Global Affairs under President Clinton, when he stated: “The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment.”

Robin Russell-Jones

Stoke Poges Buckinghamshire

No, this is to do with Islam

While it is imperative that we maintain good community relations in the UK and do all we can to prevent a backlash against the Muslim community following the Paris attacks, it helps no one to say “This has nothing to do with Islam”, when it clearly does.

Hundreds of thousands of Islamists around the world self-identify as Muslim, believe they are doing the will of Allah, appeal to the Quran as their authority, find support among sections of the wider Muslim community and have an ideology that is essentially little different to that of the Saudi Arabian regime.

I don’t know what the solution is, but saying things that are blatantly untrue seems a bad place to start. Furthermore, perpetuating this untruth isn’t going to help those Muslims who want to address issues within their faith community to do so.

Andrew Brown


Feminism on Men’s Day

In her article against having a Men’s Day (19 November), Holly Baxter makes the same argument that damages many good causes, in that she appears to hold all men responsible for the criminal acts of a few, in this case rape threats on social media.

There is no good reason not to have a Men’s Day if it is simply to highlight particular problems faced by men, such as high suicide rates. To have a Men’s Day does not detract from the entirely reasonable and necessary arguments for equal rights for women. Her arguing against such a day is unfair and unnecessary and does not further the cause of feminism.

Bob Morgan

Thatcham, Berkshire

Little word, big difference

There is a crucial difference between the opening sentence of Wednesday’s front page report: “Europe was a continent on edge last night...” and the sensationalism of the headline “Continent on the edge as fear takes its grip”. What a difference a definite article makes.

Sue Roberts

Stoke Abbott, Dorset

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