Reflections on the junior doctor strike

Capturing the experiences and reflections of Professor Dacre and the RCP’s senior officers working in hospitals during the recent junior doctor industrial action.

Reflections from RCP president Professor Jane Dacre

During the full walk out on the 26–27 April, I spent the days working on the acute medical unit in my own hospital. What never ceases to amaze me working in the NHS is the continual commitment of staff. NHS staff are fabulous. They are cheerful, caring, helpful, compassionate, diligent and would do anything in the best interest of their patients. All of this is done despite the increasing pressures facing the frontline delivery of NHS care.

During the strike days I was heartened by the determination of staff to prioritise the quality of care. I didn’t see any compromises to patient safety in my hospital. It was fantastic to see the collaboration and teamwork between the consultants and wider clinical team to ensure that the delivery of high quality care was maintained.

It was fantastic to see the collaboration and teamwork between the consultants and wider clinical team to ensure that the delivery of high quality care was maintained.

Dr Jane Dacre

The RCP registrar Dr Andrew Goddard, consultant gastroenterologist, was acting as an F1 equivalent in the Royal Derby Hospital during the strike days. Reflecting on his experiences he told me ‘it was slightly strange acting down in my own hospital, and I think that the ward sister may have enjoyed bossing me around a bit too much! But, I found the experience really rewarding both in terms of helping people and in getting a better understanding of the day to day life of our trainees.’

I am sure that many consultants across the country had similar experiences to Dr Goddard. The days gave me very useful insights on what we, as the RCP can do to help us to value trainees. It is important as consultants to remind ourselves of some of challenges of being a junior doctor, in particular how to balance patient care and clinical responsibilities with learning and progressing through training. I was shocked to see how this balancing act is made even more difficult by the amount of non-urgent and non-clinical tasks junior doctors are now expected to complete. It is a faff and it needs to be reduced. Our juniors should be empowered to prioritise care, to stop and talk to patients about their individual needs and to focus on the patient in front of them.

We must support our trainees to continue to deliver excellent care and remember that medicine is brilliant.

Dr Jane Dacre

As doctors we are privileged to have the unique opportunity to care for and help our patients. I was proud to see that the fundamental commitment to helping people is still so strong across the profession and the NHS as a whole. There is a lot of learning that we can take from these experiences and we should implement it in our own clinical settings.