Doctors’ Strikes: Time For One Final Push

An open letter from the NHSpace blog to all those doctors considering what action to take.

Dear doctors,

You’ve come a long way since the ballot on industrial action last year. You’ve forced the government to come back to the table at least twice, and got concessions out of them. You did this by maintaining a united front, and by being honest and measured whilst your opponents were being deceitful and excessive.

That’s why you still hold the cards. Hunt went all-in months ago with his ‘imposition’. He has no greater sanction left, and can only harm you in the court of public opinion. And so Hunt is trying to convince the public to turn against you.

“Hunt’s contract is far more damaging than any strike. He’s stretched the NHS so thin that people are already falling through the cracks.”

But he hasn’t succeeded yet. A new poll shows 57% of the public still support the strikes, and 51% believe Hunt should not have been reappointed. You can still win the public relations battle. Just do the following:

1 – Be team players. If the public think that doctors are divided over the contract and the strikes, they’ll lose faith in you.

2 – Be constructive. If you don’t like the strikes, focus your energy on talking about the issues you want fixed, rather than attacking your colleagues.

3 – Keep the message simple. The government are still pursuing the ‘7-day NHS’ line, which is easy for the public to follow. So remember: Hunt’s contract is far more damaging than any strike. He’s stretched the NHS so thin that people are already falling through the cracks.

4 – Expect to win, and soon. The government may have put on their poker face, but underneath the pressure is showing. If you can keep the public on your side, the government will have to cave in soon.

Regardless of what you think of the strikes, you must work together to win this fight. The very future of the NHS depends on your actions in these coming days and weeks.

Best wishes,


4 thoughts on “Doctors’ Strikes: Time For One Final Push”

  1. This is not a defeat, the fight must continue. Most of us support you, and by a long way.


  2. We’ve just heard that, following all the negative publicity, the BMA have suspended the strikes until next month.


  3. Clearly the government wants the doctors to strike, it is a tried and tested method, used against the miners under Thatcher. Just as it was then against British Coal (the remnants of which were handed to Tory donor Richard Budge), the objective is now the destruction of the NHS. Hence headlines such as ‘Fury as doctors strike’ in the press. Whose fury? Public opinion is all too easily swayed by blatant lies and subtle innuendo. The state broadcaster already refers to the BMA as a trade union, anathema to your average Express, Mail or Sun reader. They are stoking up antipathy.

    In my opinion, Jeremy Hunt is already guilty of breach of contract merely by stating his intention to impose altered terms and conditions. I think any five day strike is playing into their hands, and they know it, and will be quietly satisfied with this turn of events. The next move will be to cynically blame the death of a patient on the militant doctors, probably a child or older person.

    I supported the strikes, it was a measured, proportionate response, and a fundamental human right.

    You must keep public opinion on side, or you (and all of us) will lose. You have to play the government at their own game, a long game. Escalating industrial action isn’t it, understandable though the fury on your part may be. I have already suggested suing Jeremy Hunt for breach of contract and constructive dismissal, and seem to remember donating to a fund. I’m not a lawyer but I know about employment law, and would think a test case can be brought, with its attendant publicity.

    The other point of this two pronged assault is to attack the government in as many high profile and vivid ways as possible to raise public anger against their deliberate and cynical undermining of the NHS for financial gain. The political conference season is about to start. I know the Manchester march was ‘overlooked’ by the BBC, but an event at the Tory conference is a must (I am sure that will happen anyway, but it must be impossible to ignore). The Post Office workers under the thoughtful leadership of Tom Jackson once presented Michael Heseltine with a sea of conference delegates all wearing Save the Post Office badges to help him make his mind up.

    If the doctors were to make a dramatic reduction from say five days to one, or a Saturday or Sunday stoppage to highlight what goes on a weekends anyway, this could be presented not as a climb down but a considered and compassionate response to concerns over patients’ wellbeing. ie, “Jeremy Hunt doesn’t care (about you) but we do,” etc. And keep repeating the simple demand that he returns to the negotiating table while dropping the illegal imposition of unfair contracts.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. 57% is not a strong level of support: is this poll in response to the announcement of the five day strike?
    What was the figure before the announcement?

    It seems to me that five days is too much and on too short a notice.
    Don’t let them drag you into playing the game in their way: they are better at it…


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