Today’s columnist, Dr Mary Wren: About people not just cash

Junior Doctors' Strike
Junior Doctors' Strike
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The recent strike by junior doctors was the first for many years.

I know it is incredibly difficult for a doctor to take this action, because at the heart of our training and the reason we do medicine, is care for patients and a desire to help bring health to people.

So to deliberately not go to work is a massive thing to do and it means something serious is happening in our National Health Service.

I don’t think this is really about money, although that plays a part. It is about being valued.

Being paid a tiny amount for working antisocial hours in a high-stress, responsible job, is about what that says for the value for the person and their work.

The person feels like what they do and who they are is not of worth.

Over time that wears people down and I know large numbers of doctors who are exhausted and wondering what to do.

Years of training, massive debt, giving up social life to work long hours and now they wonder what the future holds.

All the doctors I know really care about their patients.

They care about doing a good job, making a difference, being part of an excellent health care team, improving quality of life for people.

Many are really sad that it has come to this and are disillusioned with a system they find it impossible to work in.

They feel as if they have no voice and that the future is bleak.

Many choose to go and work abroad.

However, I think the tide may be turning.

I worked 10 hours on Boxing Day helping to provide GP cover for people in Sheffield.

For five of those hours I was advising people over the phone.

Several people thanked me for being willing to work on a Bank Holiday.

Some thanked me for the help I gave and said how grateful they were for our NHS.

I was thanked more on Boxing Day than in years previously.

I really appreciated those simple words of thanks and felt valued for the work I did that day.

It made me feel like I would have worked longer and with more energy, just because I felt valued and appreciated.

Maybe we are starting to realise that we have one of the best Health Services in the world and that it is worth protecting and valuing.

It’s not just about money, it’s about people.