Posted by: Witch Doctor | August 7, 2008

There may be trouble ahead

Doctors Net UK is a password protected website for medically qualified practitioners. There are many educational features. There are also discussion forums. Some may find these laudable. Some may be uneasy about them at times. Contributors to the discussion forums are, with some notable exceptions, junior doctors. The seniors who contribute often empathise with the plight of junior doctors.

It is very likely at times of high tension, such as during MMC/MTAS, the great and the good of the medical profession have a good look around these forums to see who is saying what, and to sample grass roots opinion. They have every right to do so. In doing so they might be upset because, if junior doctors perceive these seniors to be perpetuators of a serious injustice, then they will say so in many colourful ways. This is because they meet their friends and colleagues on DNUK and use it to let off steam and throw darts at effigies.

We all throw darts at effigies but we watch where and when.

In much the same way we make faces in the bathroom mirror.

At the moment there is a furore going on in DNUK regarding the suspension of a Scottish Junior Doctor because of something that he posted criticising Dame Carol Black.

I do not know what was said nor the language he used to say it.

I assume it was, at least, very colourful.

I do not know whether it was defamatory or not.

I can’t imagine, taking away the colourfulness, that it was more defamatory than a patient or colleague reporting on Dr Neil Bacon’s new brainchild IWantGreatCare that “they do not TRUST an individual, named doctor.”

I do know that the junior doctor has since been suspended by his deanery.

I would like to know what he said if only to assess whether it was something I would have been able to shrug off if I had been the target. (The oldest sage witch is anonymous but no, she is NOT Dame Carol Black).

I would like to think, over the years I would have grown a thick enough skin to either sympathise, shrug it off, or as a last resort, even contact the individual concerned in order to allow him to vent his anger face to face and follow it up if possible with some kind of rational discussion.

What I would NOT have wanted was a colleague of mine to do the dirty work on my behalf and report him to his deanery.

However, I suspect that would NOT have been my course of action bearing in mind the wounds caused by MTAS/MMC.

It seems that Professor Elisabeth Paice of the London Deanery did not like what was being said about Dame Carol Black and decided to take action on her behalf.

It is not clear to me whether Dame Carol Black was aware of this action at the time although doubtless she is now.

Make no mistake about it, one way or another – THIS IS A TEST CASE.

It may turn out to be a test case for freedom of speech. If so, that is very serious.

It definitely tests whether senior members of the medical profession accept they have been complicit in damaging a generation of junior doctors and whether they are prepared to take at least some responsibility for the outbursts that sometimes take place against them.

It tests also whether bridges will ever be built between junior doctors and the most senior members of the medical profession or whether there will be a perpetuation of a culture of mistrust.

It is now up to the Scottish deanery concerned to decide whether they have done the right thing. They need to consider the consequences of what they have done for the medical profession, and perhaps for freedom of speech.

If they subsequently consider they have over-reacted they need to counsel this young doctor, support him and consider whether he should be reinstated immediately.

If it is likely he has broken the laws of defamation, then he still needs support.

I hope the Scottish deanery concerned is fit for purpose.

Thanks to The Jobbing Doctor for raising this issue on The Blogosphere.


  1. […] The Oldest Sage Witch, the most experienced of all the witches, tells you “THERE MAY BE TROUBLE AHEAD,” it is reckless not to […]


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: