Industrial Inaction

It’s been ages since I last blogged, and there’s a reason for that. In the past, something would come to mind while I was at work, and I’d jot down a few points or occasionally even a full post if there wasn’t much going on. However, the days of “not much going on” seem to have passed. Since the opening of the helipad, and the major trauma network policy being that all trauma patients come to us rather than to a DGH, the workload at the hospital has drastically increased.

Other than that, there have been a few other developments; 24 Hours in A&E have been and gone, the cameras have been taken down, the fixings painted over, and the program will be aired sometime before Christmas apparently. All very exciting. We don’t yet know which particular time periods have been covered on the program, but the final weekend of filming was incredibly dramatic so I’d be very surprised if at least some of it doesn’t make the cut.

We’ve also had a load of brand new Band 5 radiographers start in the department so that’s been interesting, it’s a busy London department, so plenty of people come and go, but it’s been a while since so many newbies showed up in one go. One thing that’s quite remarkable about this graduating year group (if our newbies are a representative sample) is how many of them went on elective placements abroad; Sweden, Argentina, Singapore… all over the place. It’s very encouraging to see, because (while I appreciate not everyone is able to) it gives them the opportunity to experience healthcare provision from a very different perspective. Some countries are very similar to the UK in the way they provide radiology services, others are completely different. Radiation protection is a subject which varies greatly, and as I saw in Nepal, in some places the concept does not exist, and from chatting to some of our new staff they also saw that elsewhere in the world. Also, while the UK tends to be very modern generally, because our healthcare is provided through taxation, funding is limited, so we don’t always have the more cutting edge equipment available to us. In countries like Singapore, you get to play with the really fun toys.

And on the subject of funding…

The current pressing matter is that of industrial action; several unions have balloted their members, including the Society of Radiographers, and a vote to strike has been made. It wasn’t an easy decision, withdrawing labour is usually a last resort, especially when it is going to have an effect on patients, but since the Tories have been in power, NHS staff have effectively endured continuous pay cuts, and it’s got to a point where something must be done. Personally, I feel hugely uncomfortable- I’ve attended many protests and handed out leaflets to the public, but I have never participated in strike action before, in fact until the two ballot papers arrived at my home last month, I’d never even seen such paperwork before. I was even more conflicted when the ballot result was returned- a turnout of 41% with only 53.3% voting for strike action, and 78.9% voting for action short of a strike. So in reality, a fifth of radiographers voted to strike. Luckily there is currently no minimum turnout to validate a strike, and in my opinion if there was to be one implemented, the same should apply to a general election.

But nevertheless, a strike has been called. so next Monday radiographers across the UK will walk out at 9am and not return to work until 1pm, and I shall be one of them. I’m quite disgusted with the way that the NHS has been treated by the government, with large chunks being sold off to politicians’ friends for a hefty profit, cuts to funding, and disparaging comments being made by those in a position of immense priviledge. Yesterday a significantly larger strike took place, with Unison members on the picket line from 7am. I joined the picket for an hour before work yesterday, and it was lovely to bump into June Hautot again, a local “trouble maker” as she has been described. I doubt we’ll have as much support on the 20th, but I’ll certainly be there regardless of the weather!

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