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Junior Doctors

OK Theresa and Jeremy and Tim and Nicola and Leanne and all the other pavement walking, door knocking, Manifesto-pledging Parliamentary candidates currently pounding our Nations’ streets, I have some questions for you. And, as a disabled person, I’m pretty sure there are many others from my community who have questions for you too. Why are you not speaking to us? Don’t we count? Don’t our votes matter to you? I hope not.

What I want to know, exactly, is what the political big-wigs and hard-hitters and movers and shakers in this country can offer to us? What promises can you give to all of us. What promises or pledges will you make to us? According to all the statistics I have been able to find, there are around 12-13 million disabled people in this country, what are you going to do to our lives any better for us? Are you totally disregarding the collective power and magnitude of disabled people’s votes and the votes of our families and friends? I hope not. Do you really think you can continue to either demonise us or watch others doing the demonising without us noticing? I hope not. Are you going to continue putting our needs to the back of the queue? I hope not. Are you going to go on ignoring us? I hope not.

Well, here are my questions at any rate.

We are told that Social care in this country is in crisis. That there is not enough money to pay home-carers and unpaid carers a decent wage or benefit that reflects what they do to support and enable us. What are you going to do about it? We are the net users of that care, what are you planning on doing to alleviate the situation and ensure that we get the care we want and need to allow us to live our lives to the full?

What are you going to do?

Many of us need to use aids and adaptations in our daily lives such as hoists and wheelchairs and hearing aids and aids for people with visual impairments. What are you going to do so that we can all get the best equipment we need to live without having to fight for every nut, bolt, screw, , plug, cable and electronic component?

What are you going to do?

Then there is the constant battle to find a home, a place to live which can cater for our access needs and accommodate us properly and in comfort. It’s often one of the greatest obstacles we face but one where we appear to get little or no help in getting what we need. What are you going to do to ensure that there are houses and flats and bungalows available which allow us to live in the community with our families, alongside our friends and neighbours without having to fight for funding for alterations and adaptations?

What are you going to do?

How are you proposing that your party will ensure that disabled children and young people can receive the education they need and deserve alongside their non-disabled compatriots? How are you going to try to ensure that they can all study together and not be segregated due to an impairment meaning the school or college is physically inaccessible for all?

What are you going to do?

Everyone falls sick at some point in their lifetime, what are you going to do to ensure that everyone can access the healthcare we all need and not find it being rationed according to how much we need it and how expensive it is? How are you going to give us access to the doctors and specialists and the nursing professionals we need in our hospitals? Are you going to ensure that these professionals receive salaries that reflect their skills and dedication? Are you going to make sure that they have working conditions such as hours and breaks that allow them to do their jobs to the best of their ability and not want to leave?

What are you going to do.

Then there the employment thing. We are told that everyone must work and get a job. What are you going to do to ensure that disabled people who can work get the support they need to do so safely and successfully and that those that can’t work due to their impairments are not demonised and punished for daring to be sick and disabled. Many of us would like to have the opportunity to do something, however small, what are you going to do to help us? How are you going to promote disability in the workplace so that those of us who can work and want to work get the support we need and the opportunity to do so?

What are you going to do?

Talk to us and tell us how you are going to help and support us. Why should we vote for you and your party as opposed to the other parties and their candidates? What are you going to do that will make a difference for us? Don’t write off 13 million potential voters. Please talk to us and tell us what you’re going to do to help us. If you want my vote give me a reason to put my cross next to your name on the ballot paper. What difference are you going to make to my life? Why should I vote for you, please tell me.

What are you going to do?

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Anyone who has ever received any treatment whatsoever, in hospital, must surely be grateful for and appreciative of the work of all the wonderful junior doctors we have working in the NHS. A service that is free at the point of use and whose  medical staff are professional and dedicated.

For most of us, our first meeting with doctors and nurses would have been before we were even born when our mothers would have received ante-natal treatment and our final meeting will be close to, and probably even at, the very moment of our deaths. In between these two events the vast majority of us are likely to see the inside of a hospital more than once. And every time it will, almost certainly, be a junior doctor who treats us. The work these people do for us is immeasurable and we should all be so thankful for the men and women who dedicate their working lives to looking after the health of the entire nation. No task is too small, no task is too difficult, they will do their best to help every single one of us from the moment we go to a hospital for treatment until, hopefully, we are ready to leave, significantly better if not cured. And these are the people who are about to have a new contract forced upon them. A contract which will be detrimental to the entire profession. A contract that is making so many consider resigning and moving to work abroad where doctors are properly appreciated and valued.

As a disabled person I have had call to use the services of my local hospital on many occasions, maybe more than average, and on each of those occasions I have received the most wonderful care and compassion from all the doctors I have seen. As a parent I have had even more reason to see the work of our junior doctors first hand and, never once, in more than fifty years, have I ever heard any of them complain or say they can’t or refuse to help. As far as I am concerned they are all wonderful people who do their best from the second I first meet them until the second I say goodbye. When I had my first child they were admited to the special care baby unit at birth and treated there for a week before I was able to take them home. They were treated by junior doctors. When my younger daughter had some major asthma attcksas as a small child it was the junior doctors in my local hospital who treated her so she could come home later, fit and well. When my ex-partner had a motorcycle accident and was taken to Accident and Emergency he was treated and his life saved by junior doctors both there and on the ward. When my elderly father was in a nasty accident and broke his neck it was junior doctors who worked tirelessly to save his life and his mobility. Last year I spent several weeks as an in-patient and every day I saw the dedication displayed by these men and women as they worked tirelessly to help and treat every one of us on the ward. I saw the way they would stop and smile and talk to every patient, even the ones they weren’t about to treat themselves. I heard the abuse that some of them were subjected to by some very ill people and people in tremendous pain who, almost certainly, would not have behaved the way they did or said the things they said if they hadn’t been so ill. Not once did these professionals bat an eyelid or say anything back, they just went on doing their best for us all. They were polite and dedicated at all times, however tired they may have been, however many hours they may have just worked, however many more hours they still had to work before they got their next break. They were amazing.  

This is why I will continue to support the industrial action our junior doctors are being forced to take, I know they wouldn’t be doing so if they didn’t feel they had no other option. Junior doctors are the lifeblood of our National Health Service and their work should be valued and applauded by all of us who have ever had to use hospital service and that, I suspect, is most of us.  

To all the Junior doctors working in the United Kingdom, from one of your many patients, thank you, I would not be alive without you.