31st May 2012 

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News and Comment from Roy Lilley
There are some people who you don't want to be like the rest of us. The Pope; I wouldn't expect to see him in a football shirt. Only flowing white robes will do. The Queen; don't want to see her texting, it has to be a Parker fountain pen and Basildon Bond.

Like watching your Dad jiving at a wedding reception; there are some 'oh-no's' you could do without.

Some people play an iconic role in daily life. Because of what they do you expect them to be different. You wouldn't expect to see a fireman lighting a barbecue with lighter fuel, or an airline pilot turning up for work with a hangover. There are people we respect, admire and for whom we hold a certain deference.

Footballers; we assume are capable of anything; drugs, drink and fornicating with your wife. Politicians, once high in the pecking order are now regarded as about as honest as an inner-city estate agent and it looks like are still fiddling their expenses. Everyone in the NHS has special reasons never to trust a politician again. We now know the police are likely sell your secrets to the press who will be eavesdropping into your life, family and nearest and dearest. There are very few people we can trust. Vicars? Maybe, unless you are a Catholic Choirboy.

Life, expectations and pressure; I don't know what it is but they have in some way, conspired to erode what we might regard as 'values'. I guess the era of warm beer and cricket on the green is gone. Nevertheless, there are some people we still put our faith in. Doctors are still high in public esteem.

That is about to change.

Doctors have been offered a rotten pension deal. They've tried to sort it out but they've got nowhere. Their end-of-play response is to take industrial action. They are not going to do elective stuff. That will cause problems for patients whose relatives have taken time off work to be on-hand post-operative. It will push up waiting times and be a bloody nuisance all round.

It will have no effect. LaLa will tough this out. It is not in his gift to change anything. This is a battle with the Treasury. Cave-in on the Doc's pension and the rest of the public sector will avalanche. Forget it.

So, what will the Docs do? They will have their silly day of inaction and it will not change anything. What next? Another day of inaction? Maybe two days of action, inaction? Then they will refuse to do paperwork and that will gum up the works until managers sort it out. After that? A proper walk out? Throw themselves under the Queen's horse at Royal Ascot? Chain themselves to the railings outside Number 10. Self-immolation? Maybe resign from the NHS and lose all their pension entitlement and career prospects?

Are these doctors totally and completely without a brain between them? Do they have no understanding of strategy? They are on the road to nowhere.

To win they have to have a narrative the public can understand and support. The DH can say 'a doctor's pension is in the region of �68K, given the state of the nation's finances that's the best we can do'. The doctors will say; er.....complex.....we thought we had a deal and blah...blah. The public will say; 'my pension has been hammered, too'. The docs will say, 'errr...'

I know the Doctors' leader, Hamish Meldrum, does not want a strike. He knows the damage it will do to his profession. He is captured by his members and the best he can do is to step down and let the lunatics run the asylum.

The government is wrong on the doctors' pension issue. It is also wrong on the NHS reforms but a doctor going on strike is a gift for the Tories who will bind the reform package to doctors and their personal interests. Andy Burnham will say 'this is another example of the Coalition not listening' knowing all too well there is nothing that Labour would do different. He'll turn-off his mobile.

Doctors have nowhere to go, except back to work.

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