Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 25 February 2016


Many professional people routinely work at weekends. When I was a lawyer if you had a big transaction on, you just worked whatever hours were necessary to get the deal done, including weekends or through the night. There is no expectation of overtime payments. Accountants similarly, even those in small practices as the financial year end approaches – work around the clock. Vets have to put up with anti-social hours. Farmers obviously work at weekends with no extra charge, struggling to make a living. Even MPs routinely work at weekends holding meetings, visiting fayres, opening fetes and holding surgeries.

Now we all love and respect our doctors. It is a massive worry when your loved one is ill and to be able to hand he or she over to a highly skilled professional person who will do their utmost to make them better is a great relief. Doctors can do things that the rest of us cannot do and they are deserving of respect and honour. They should also be rewarded for their skill as well as all of their many years of study and graft. I studied law at King's College London in the Seventies constantly surrounded by medical students and I can remember vividly how hard they worked to qualify.

But given that the age of deference is dead, respect has to be earned these days, even by doctors.

So it was a shock to witness some doctors going on strike recently, not something that we expect to see. They were locked in dispute with government about new working arrangements as the government try to introduce better 7 day-a-week cover and care at our hospitals. The dispute became heated with claim and counter-claim being flung around.

But when you scraped through all of the rhetoric, doctors went on strike because they want to continue to be paid overtime for working on Saturdays. The problem with that is, it is a massive disincentive for cash-strapped hospitals to roster in sufficient weekend cover if it is too expensive. And patient care suffers as a result.

The BMA for several months refused point blank to even meet with the secretary of state for health to negotiate. They informed their members that their pay was being cut and they were being asked to work longer hours, none of which was true.

This was all unnecessary and disruptive of patients. It is disappointing to learn that further damaging strikes are now planned.

posted by Gary @ 09:34