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Striking out


Striking out

Striking when the nation’s defence, emergency services or health are at stake is even more unforgivable

Independent contractor Sid Dajani shares strong views on the government, the NHS, and the junior doctors’ strike

I write something, press the button and wonder. I wonder who will read it and what response it will have. A few months ago I wrote about the junior doctors’ strike, and by about lunchtime my Facebook page and in-box had melted. Blimey, are there some hacked-off junior doctors out there! If there was a composite letter it would say: “Thrilled to become a doctor, hate what the profession will become”. Add to that, “wish I did something else”, and you’ll get the flavour.

As regular readers will know, I’m not the biggest fan of this government. In fact, I’m not a fan at all. I predicted an even more depressing NHS melt-down when this government got elected without a coalition party to temper its excesses.

Standing up for what?

The Health Secretary wears an NHS badge and professes a commitment to the health service, but the question is not what he stands for but what he will stand up for. Politics, policies or patients? I may be wrong but many believe this man isn’t fit to run a church fete, never mind the UK’s health service.

His incompetence is only matched by that of the British Medical Association, and we all know two turkeys don’t make an eagle, or that two wrongs don’t make a right. It’s turned into a competition of incompetence. A very sad state of affairs.

The NHS is facing one of its biggest challenges and it can’t cope with more upset when even a normal day is extraordinary. The junior doctors have a genuine issue, but holding the NHS and patients hostage is not the answer. They claim the NHS and the government had enough warning to put in place compensatory mechanisms – is that a good enough answer for you?

Learning from history

History dictates that striking simply annoys the masses, is never successful even when both sides claim victory, and detracts from the message. I’m not so sure that the language of ‘disgrace’ and ‘carelessness’ adds anything. Better the language of ‘why’, ‘how’ and ‘solutions’, because striking doesn’t cause leaders to topple. Just like in wars, it’s the innocents that suffer.

I don’t agree with collateral damage unless it’s a no-choice situation. And striking when the nation’s defence, emergency services or health are at stake is even more unforgivable.


Recent headlines have added to the NHS rumour mill. There is always plenty of gossip, speculation and chit-chat. It can be delicious, intriguing, embarrassing, and a damned nuisance, in equal measure. But it lubricates the day-to-day, entertains us, makes some people feel powerful and others important. As I write we’ve just made it through a second day of strikes. Patients are piling up on waiting lists and the Patients Association – with doctors as its trophy presidents and advisers – is struck dumb. Hospitals are on the verge of collapse and the NHS Confederation (chaired by a Tory ex-cabinet minister) is all but silent.

The medical royal colleges are busy polishing their chains of office, being too posh to push into a ‘workers strike’. The other health unions are showing no signs of solidarity – it seems the junior doctors are all alone. Even when they’re 100 per cent right, would you call this a victory?

So as the last whiff of cordite and smoke swirls around them, the news is that the Department of Health and the junior doctors have decided to lay down their weapons and bring a new weapon to the battlefield – the negotiating table.

The way to Timbuktu

I’m reminded about the old joke. A motorist asks a pedestrian: “How can I get to Timbuktu?” The answer: “I wouldn’t start from here”. My in-box continues to flood with worried correspondence asking, “what are you going to do about the strike?” I guess that, “I wouldn’t start from here”, isn’t a good enough answer.

While not ideal, negotiations may be predictable. To be great at doing the little things is truly heroic, perhaps even noble. Without the little things we cannot achieve the big things.

So the negotiations are a start, at least, and I predict both sides will claim a victory, no matter how pyrrhic or hollow. But it’s about time someone thought about our patients!

Busy in the media

I’ve had a busy month in the media, including TV, a few live radio interviews, and articles in national print – all on separate subjects. Using clingfilm on numbing creams after laser depilation, how Brexit will affect UK pharmacy, the difference between brands and generics, and so on. All these topic were up for discussion. One interview was at seven in the morning, which was quite challenging after a very late night at the pharmacy.

At a far more reasonable hour, I was approached by a well-known British TV and film scriptwriter; I didn’t know quite how famous he is until I Googled him for authenticity. When I confessed that I had Googled him, he said he did the same to me.

He wanted me to act as an adviser for a Hollywood script he was writing, so we met at a cafe in London where he gave me a run-down of the screenplay and I agreed to sign a confidentiality agreement for a fee. Who knows, a film about narcotics, greed, sex and corruption could be quite popular!


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