Saturday, 12 May 2012

Why we will never win

The African Wildebeest can weigh up to 250 Kg, and lives in herds tens of thousands strong. If they were capable of co-operative action as a herd the individuals within the herd would be virtually invulnerable.

But they aren’t. When predators attack, all the individuals within the herd panic until the predators single out their victim. And then they all go back to calmly grazing even while their comrade is being torn to pieces and devoured within their sight. Once they realise “it’s not me today” they lose all interest.

The reason I describe this phenomenon is because that is exactly how NHS consultants behave when confronted by a belligerent management. I have commented before on a small number of the more publicised cases where individual consultants have been targeted for special attention by management, and received virtually no support from their colleagues. But these few I have featured are the tip of the iceberg.

Another analogy is to be found in the book “Watership Down” The wild rabbits of the story encounter a group of rabbits who appear to live a utopian existence. They live a life of luxury, fed and watered, constantly warm & dry, and protected from predators. But every now & then one of them is taken away, and is never seen again. These individuals are never mentioned. It is if they never existed.

Management at all levels from the local to the national know full well that this is how the consultant body behaves and that is how they keep us under control. They know they can isolate and destroy any one of us, and our colleagues will stand by and let it happen, conscious that it might be them next time. 

And that is why we will never win. For whatever reason we are unable or unwilling to co-ordinate our considerable strength for the common good. Why should it be like that? We are not wildebeest.


  1. The problem with doctors, and nurses, is that we are too busy trying to be 'professional' and instead of supporting each other are too busy in our own 'professionalism' and expect management to behave in the same professional manner. Watch the porters, domestics, engineers. They are not professionals but know they are essential, have huge distrust of management and in any conflict get the union involved immediately who then fight on their behalf and tell management what they can and can't do. Us professionals meanwhile are too busy saying "they can't sack me" even as we are picking up our P45's.

    Yes the power of the unions has been diluted over the years but even the thickest of managers will shy away from an industrial tribunal where the union has put in a solicitor/barrister.

  2. Can't think of a name12 May 2012 at 16:23

    I think it's also a reality that not all doctors put their patients' interests first - some put money or status first. I appreciate that may not seem to be a nice thing to say, especially to someone who very obviously does care very much, but when I see what is happening locally where doctors and money are concerned, it's clear that there are /some/ for whom the patients come second. That's just life.

    1. You don't have to tell me how selfish and mercenary some of my colleagues are. Just read some of my old posts on private practice.