Alice Gerth: Junior doctors find their voice

As the strikes continue and the BMA votes to escalate action I have been searching for some of the more positive aspects of the present situation.

Over the past few months a whole generation of doctors has engaged with politics and leadership. We have woken up to the fact that we have a powerful voice and I am excited to see what the long term consequences of this will be. How many of these new voices will take roles in management within the NHS, or will run our future think tanks, or end up on the benches of Westminster?

This generation of doctors has discovered its power and we desire to use it for good. Doctors have always been at the forefront of social change, look at Dr Thomas Bernado who provided a safe place for destitute children, or Dr Sophia Jex-Blake who campaigned for the rights of woman to an education. We chose this career because we want to care for others. My concern is that we are becoming jaded by the fight and that this passion will fizzle out, especially if the industrial action becomes more extreme and lasts much longer.

As such I want to grasp the energy we have discovered and challenge each of us to look beyond the contract debate and beyond the NHS. We need to find our individual “soap box” whether that be women’s rights, global warming, the widening gap between rich and poor, or disability rights, it doesn’t matter. Find something to care about, to be passionate about that helps us to look beyond the current frustration and pressures. I hope that as a generation of doctors we will be able to look back and see the junior doctors’ contracts as a catalyst for change that stretches far beyond the NHS and the UK.

Alice Gerth is a junior doctor.

Competing Interests: Paying member of the BMA. Otherwise none.