Wednesday 20 February 2008

Doctorin' the job description

Like most workers, doctors are certainly being hammered by this government. Plans to force them to work longer hours and open at weekends and evenings, while at the same wanting local doctors' surgeries to merge into 'super clinics', will have a negative impact on the welfare of both doctors and, in many cases, the quality of care they can give their patients.

Then there's plans to force doctors to ride roughshod over the doctor-patient confidentiality rule, by making them report any suspected knife crime. I don't like knife crime (nor do I know anybody who does!), but I feel the abandoning of doctor-patient confidentiality is the start of a dangerous slippery slope. For starters, it would make it easier for right-wingers to reverse the "Gillick ruling" which allows people under 18 to get contraception without parental consent; removing this would put many young people off getting contraception, leading to a rise in teenage pregnancies and STD infections among young people. And where would it stop; would doctors have to inform employers and insurance companies when a person is diagnosed with a condition (eg asthma or diabetes), potentially leading to unfair discrimination? Or report injuries sustained during consensual BDSM activity? Or cannabis use? Or injuries sustained while walking on the grass?

But now it's really getting stupid. Not content with press-ganging doctors to help them in their crusade to reduce the number of people on incapacity benefit, health secretary Alan Johnson now want doctors to clamp down in people in work who get ill and need a doctors' sick note while they recover at home (BBC News: Bid to tackle 'sick-note culture'). According to the report, 'He has urged GPs to issue "well notes" setting out what tasks a worker can perform instead of certificates automatically signing them off.' Oh, so as well as acting as policemen, doctors are now expected to act as career advisers as well ?!?

If the government really wants workers to perform what tasks we can, they can take some serious action against employers who still refuse to employ people with disabilities which do not affect their core job, and remove all exemptions from the Disability Discrimination Act (a number of employers are still exempt, eg the military). And they can sort out the problem of insurers refusing to insure people with some disabilities to work in certain industries, such as construction. But this would mean taking on the capitalist Establishment. Instead, they seem hell-bent on hammering working class people, whether in work or on benefits.

Well, if you ask me, the government are onviously unfit to do their job. But I dunno what jobs the doctors would find Brown, Johnson, etc fit to do. Personally, I don't even think they'd be fit to shovel $#!t !!!!

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