Orthopaedic surgeons (bone doctors) are not classically known for their vocal talents. Ambitious, skilled and highly- resilient, these professionals perform lifesaving procedures day after day. For one such surgeon, his fight for his patients has left the operating theatre and moved into the studio. It is hard to ignore the ongoing junior doctor contract, and whatever side you fall on, it is clear that the public need answers. Sometimes the best answer can be in song.
Dr Rishi Dhir, a 35-year-old surgeon from London, has written, funded and performed the both poignant and hilarious protest song 'Stand Up'. Delivering a unique brand of humour and self-deprecation, Dr Dhir has explained the complicated mess that has been the junior doctor contract debacle and hopes to inspire people to stand with physicians in seeking a safer contract.
"I felt music was a very effective way of reaching a public who were fatigued from Brexit and protests. I wanted to keep the message simple and take it back to grass roots," says Dr Dhir, stage name 'Dr Rishi'.
The junior contract has been a subject of serious debate. Health secretary Jeremy Hunts claim that the contact will improve patient care and enable a 24/7 elective NHS service, whilst increasing healthcare salaries without a funding increase. Doctor opposition claims that extending care without additional funding, recognition of current service failures, integration of different healthcare sectors and a false evidence base make any contractual changes both dangerous and unrealistic.
Critics have claimed that manifesto promises are being carried out to potential public detriment. Jeremy Hunt has received rebuke for his stern handling of the dispute and legal proceedings to arrest contract imposition are underway.
"I felt the need to stop this contract as I felt nothing had changed in terms of the main problems," says Dr Dhir. "No whistleblowing protection, inadequate safeguards, inequality, the devaluing of staff and cutting their pay and rushing through an uncosted, untested model purely for political reasons - the result of which would be to overload the system and staff, preparing it to fail and opening the door up to mass privatisation."
Dr Dhir's clear discussion makes for a refreshing assessment of the situation. Serious concerns have been raised about government motives and a wider suspicion of intent is growing amongst healthcare workers. It is clear that any contractual impasse must be met with honesty and patient health in mind. Meanwhile, Dr Dhir hopes that his music will help rally public support and make the government think twice about ignoring its workforce.
"The government, to make a safe plan, needs to listen and work with doctors and nurses not against us," states Dr Dhir. 'Be truthful with the public about your intentions. If it is a true 7-day service, cost it properly, use the evidence properly and value your staff who work tirelessly to support the NHS."
However, the debate ends, you can be sure that Dr Rishi will continue to strive for excellent care, perhaps with a bit of musical entertainment to help us all along the way.
Download 'Stand Up' on iTunes
Any opinions above are the author's alone. All data is based on either peer reviewed or externally validated studies unless expressed otherwise. Opportunistic data presented is representative of those participating alone and may not represent associated regulatory bodies. Guidance is based the best available evidence at the time of writing. Online recommendation is no substitute for seeing your own doctor and should not be taken as medical advice. Dr Janaway is in favour of negotiation of a further contract in the interest of patient care.
Dr Ben Janaway MBChB is a young NHS doctor in the Southwest. His interests include neurology, health communication, and medical ethics. He is also an avid advocate of compassionate care and quality improvement, running a project in the Southwest around medical humanities. Please follow and support: Dr Janaway on Facebook Dr Janaway on Twitter