PLEASE NOTE THIS POST IS INTENDED TO BE A PLACE FOR THE A SHARING OF IDEAS. IF YOU HAVE ANY PLEASE ADD THEM IN THE COMMENTS.
This post isn’t exclusively about the Junior Doctor Strike but as it’s the first time Doctors in the UK have gone on strike in over 40 years and they’re the younger Doctors who will be more familiar and better placed to use Mobile (the newest mass media), I think it’s a good time to make the case that understanding Mobile is key for Doctors to be able to stand up for themselves and their Patients and I think it’s time they took the opportunity to take a Mobile First strategy.
Being complacent isn’t an option and Doctors need to develop their voice
The value of having a voice so you can share the experiences, thoughts and ideas that you have as a Doctor cannot be underestimated as there are so many commercial interests in our modern healthcare system that have huge financial and political clout to spend trying to obfuscate and hide the concerns that you will inevitably encounter. If you have no voice faceless bureaucrats and marketing spin from corporations will dictate what care your Patient’s are provided with and the Healthcare system that will be there for you and your children.
One of the best things to come of the Junior Doctor Contract is that so many Healthcare Professionals have opened Twitter/Facebook accounts and started blogging but just as it’s not advisable to start digging a well when you’re thirsty it’s key that we help Healthcare Professionals develop their voices ahead of time as this is what really helps audiences appreciate if you’re genuine.
What really matters: the Patient
It should be clear that you can’t be a victim and healer at the same time so the Government and NHS need to do more to provide Doctors with working conditions under which they can thrive. I personally feel that a Doctor walking out on strike is potentially not a very good idea because the NHS is very much a political football and walking away from Patients will play directly into the hands of politicians who have very thick skins and all too often little conscience when it comes to playing political games with decisions that have huge impacts on lives of Patients that Carers have to look in the eye.
I also feel that it’s an admission that you’re powerless, all out of ideas and are completely desperate. I also feel it undermines all the times healthcare professionals force themselves to work even when unwell or are not being paid because they can’t let Colleagues and/or Patients down. This isn’t talked much about but every citizen appreciates this (who hasn’t heard about a case where a pilot asked ‘are there any Doctors onboard?’, who hasn’t seen a Doctor stop when someone collapses or a there’s a car accident, etc) and it’s something that is respected greatly (even if it’s often left unsaid).
The NHS is an incredibly complex and bloated system that most Patients can’t hope to understand. Most of the workers within it also don’t understand how it operates and those that do have no power or time to fix it. However before Doctors admit that they are all out of ideas and are completely desperate and powerless they should unite in protesting that conditions are unfair and in supporting their ethical colleagues who are fighting their own corners.
Where are you going to make the time for all this?
One of the reasons I feel that the vast majority of Doctors are so quiet is because they are bogged down with long working long hours and very stressful workloads. They also have better things to do (like living their lives) with their free time than spend it complaining or getting involved in politics.
I think Doctors need to be clear that the bureaucratic wastes of their time are also the enemy of good Patient care and should use their voices to call these out so that they can be minimised. If you spend your working day in the multiBillion£ St Thomas’s Hospital overlooking the House of Commons looking at EHRs that are designed in 1997 for Windows XP it should be obvious that you need the capacity to share your experience of it (like Dr Cosima Gretton did so clearly here).
Do you spend days of your life travelling and paying for events to get CME points? Ask for online and low cost/free alternatives that you can take while on the exercise bike in the gym – like this one on Diabetes we produced for the IDF World Diabetes Congress.
Does your Hospital run pointless generic meetings that take you away from Patient care? Complaining might get you fired so ask nicely if you can video them with your mobile and post them on YouTube and try tagging it so it can be found by others. In the NHS you’re in a lucky position where you aren’t under the same pressure to to get ahead of other Hospitals on administrative burdens so share what you’re doing as it might help others and help administrators develop their own best practices.
Mobile helps you avoid getting stuck in Mud Slinging matches
Already the mainstream media is shooting down the Doctors leading the strike as ‘Moet Medics’ and this is a good reminder of the power of media (all media is social media now that we have mobile phones) and why Doctors really need to ensure that they understand it because what they do online is forever.
With regard to media use I feel that if Junior Doctors were were they are today with their own use of media 6 months ago this strike wouldn’t be happening eg. the Sun ‘moet medics’ article is such a low quality retort that it immediately backfired and created a #MoetMedics bashtag that’s helping Junior Doctors make their case to the public (every man and his dog knows British Politicians get more holidays and earn more than Junior Doctors will ever manage). I feel this could’ve all been brought to the fore much earlier to generate citizen support if these medics had of received some training on the use of media.
Forget the old mass medias
This Junior Doctor Media Campaign fund highlights what’s wrong here. An advert on the tube, newspaper or cinema is playing the same game as your opponents (government is the UK’s biggest advertiser so not only do they have much deeper pockets filled by taxpayers but they’ll always get cheaper ad rates than you can).
Find a Patient/Friend who works/worked for Facebook, Google or an ad network. If you have a Linkedin profile you’ll find these easy to find through connections. That distant friend from school who was a whizz with a computer and who knows how hard you swotted to get your A-Levels is going to be more useful to you than a random stranger you’ll meet on the picket line outside your hospital – even if you haven’t been in touch with them for 10 years!
Try and get them to study Tomi Ahonen’s books/blog and understand how people won political support by taking a mobile first approach. A good starting place for their research would be this post that explains how Barack Obama won his first election in the USA in 2008 thanks to SMS.
Take your campaign viral
Do something creative that will help this campaign go viral and leave a permanent legacy for Politicians to think twice before making unreasonable demands from Healthcare Professionals. If you think perhaps this is a step too far because it’s too risky then maybe you should review your support of walking out because if the impact is of too much risk to you them how can it be okay to shift the risks to Patients?
Junior Doctors will be able to think up amazing ideas, create an online group and vote to select for your favorites. One idea might be to commute to work and dress in pyjamas and a dressing gown to make the point that you’re onside with Patients (the Politicians would never do this!). Travel to work like this and have people on your commute take and share pics to support you.
A picture of a Junior Doctor going to work on the tube at 6am in their pyjamas dragging a case with “£70,000 student debt please support #JUNIORDOCTORS” written across on it is worth a lot more than a printed ad on the tube that people will just ignore/forget.
Imagine if every worker working in the NHS today asked their Patients and their Families to support the Doctors who came into work when they should be striking? Imagine the solidarity when your Patients and their Families are showing the Hospital Porters the Facebook pages of their friends and families supporting the Junior Doctors on this important day?
Imagine how politicians would listen if the Junior Doctors could get a song to number 1 in the music charts? Perhaps they could plead to ZDoggMD to make them a viral video critiquing vested interests and politicians the world over who work to undermine Doctors and Patient Care?
Do the businesses you work with support Junior Doctors?
Imagine if companies that wanted the support of smart switched on Junior Doctors were asked to help? Tell reps that unless their corporation shares your campaign on social media you won’t give them the time of day and see where it gets you.
Do you plan to go to any conferences in 2016? These events are normally organised by big media companies who have significant media reach. Ask them to show support for your campaign in exchange for your support of their conference. Boycott those that don’t reciprocate, tell the organisers why and share this information with your peers.
Moving on from this day of strike
I hope that from this day of strike action the momentum to speak out increases across Healthcare Professionals who have been too silent about how we practice medicine in these dynamically changing times as we shift beyond the 2,000 year old model of healthcare.
I think this is also a great time to focus on efforts than will boost safety levels (eg. a CHIRP system like they have for Pilots for Junior Doctors, calling out the drinking culture that medical schools help support, etc) and helping reduce the divisions that exist between Surgeons and Physicians (the profession is split with huge pay differences) and senior Doctors and their Junior colleagues (we have to work on the “I had to do it so you should too” attitude that still exists in those who endured it themselves).
Remember: Reaching one person with the right message is all it takes
Really understand what it takes to become a leader in the NHS because very often the most important person in a hospital can be the Healthcare Assistant who brings Patients a cup of tea without being asked.
*** Update 14 February 2016 ***
Denis Campbell in the Guardian has revealed that Hospitals may refuse to impose the new “contract” (I think we shouldn’t now be referring to it as a contract because it wasn’t produced through agreement with anyone) that Jeremy Hunt has imposed on junior doctors without a pilot or risk assessment.
An opt-out could lead to a flood of local deals with trusts as the CEO’s are against the contract (it will make recruiting an even bigger nightmare and these execs are much more sensitive to sacks full of letters from Patients than Whitehall politicians ever will be) and they’ll need to keep their Doctors onside. On the flip side this will completely undermine the efforts of the BMA to protect and maintain the employment rights of Doctors working across the NHS. Without the BMA the Doctors had better work out how to maintain their solidarity with one another or there will no doubt be plenty of ways that a fractured NHS system will be able to play unfair.
*** Update 16 February 2016 ***
A letter from Prof Ian R Cumming OBE, CEO, Health Education England, has threatened Trusts CEOs with removal of training posts if don’t impose the Contract that’s being forced upon Junior Doctors without even a pilot or risk assessment.