There's a paradox, isn't there, with all this industrial action. On the one hand, what's not to dislike about HMG going back on a fair deal that means GPs, who are having to work under more pressure than ever, to pay more, for much longer, for less, to a pension fund that's actually in profit? On the other hand, taking conventional industrial action is anathema to so many of us (healthcare isn't an industry after all, its a vocation). Not to mention the completely predictable reaction from the public and the press. But we have to do something. So lets up the ante. Lets take VOCATIONAL action. Here are my ten ideas for GPs to, on a single day, make a stand and attract attention in a positive way to show how strongly they feel about the proposed pension reforms.
- Open surgery doors at the weekend. Yes, pick a Saturday, open up the appointment books and allow extra patients to see you at the weekend.
- Extend appointment times to 15 minutes or, if you're really angry, make it 20 minutes! Tell our patients that if they've often felt rushed, or had something they'd really like to talk about, now could be a good time to do it.
- Organise a communal surgery event or a cake and bake party. Hook up with a local farmers market to create a healthy eating message. Donate all the money raised to local charities.
- Speaking of charity, pick a day for GPs to dedicate that day's salary to charity, and ask patients to support you by raising money themselves.
- Turn up to work in trainers or walking boots, or if you're feeling really brave, your whole gym/running/riding/sailing gear. Set an example to your patients that you're involved in healthy activities. But leave your Speedos at home, eh?
- Or the day of action could be giving every patient who comes in through the door that day one of their 5-a-day - an apple perhaps. No lemons, please.
- Take action by helping out at a local homeless centre, or volunteering at a nursing home near you.
- Be even more welcoming to your patients by filling your waiting or consulting rooms with flowers from your gardens.
- Any musical GPs in the surgery? How about a lunchtime performance to ease the stresses of your patients - either in your waiting room or local care home.
- The day before, you and your colleagues paint or draw pictures that evoke in you the best moments of being a GP - a carer. Spend no more than 5 minutes per picture. Try oils - sticky, but smells lovely. Or if you prefer, short poems or stories. Stick them all over the walls of the waiting room, and auction them off for charity the next day.
OK, I started to loose it there by the end, but I did promise you 10 ways to show the government (through your patients who, after all, are the people who vote governments in to office) how much this means to us all. Industrial action doesn't have to be negative or destructive. It can be positive. It has to be in line with who we as GPs are, and who our patients and all those we care for hold us up to be. As the country's most respected profession, lets keep it that way, with our patients and the media on our side.