Career focus: Going on strike
Consultant Mark Pugh took industrial action as a junior doctor in Ireland and reflects on the lessons for doctors today
For two weeks in the autumn of 1987 there were virtually no junior doctors present in the Republic of Ireland's hospitals. As a junior doctor at the time, I took part in the strike and even had a small role in organising it. The aim of the strike was to increase overtime payments in the belief that this would decrease the amount of overtime we would be expected to work.
Going on strike is not something any doctor will find easy. We want to help patients; using them as pawns runs counter to the reasons why we do medicine. There is the alarming possibility that patients may be harmed because of actions. Junior doctors also have the concern that going on strike may potentially damage their future careers. Thinking about strikes and money seems to change the nature of what we do from a medical vocation into an ordinary job.