The future for professionals who work in the public sector is bleak. The attempt by government to impose a new employment contract on junior doctors is just the latest example of a campaign against professionals. Whether it is the medical profession, the legal profession, the teaching profession, policing, nursing or social work, professionals are seen as resisting change, undermining efficiency initiatives and holding back the modernisation process. Professionals claims to have the interests of patients/pupils/public/clients or services users at heart are dismissed as motivated by self interest. The professionals experience and insights are not valued, their professional values are considered secondary to party political values of choice, competition and cost. Across the public sector there has been a strategy to undermine the status, influence and credibility of nurses, teachers, social workers, legal aid lawyers and now doctors. The process involves inspection regimes which name and shame so undermining public confidence, asserting that unqualified staff could carry out much of the role at a fraction of the cost, underfunding services and introducing frequent reorganisations, imposing new contracts with inferior working conditions, removing job security, eroding pension entitlements and an enforced pay freeze.
The outcome of the junior doctors battle with the Secretary of State for Health will have implications for nurses, allied professionals, teachers, social workers and police officers as the government seeks to further shrink the public sector, modernise services and make efficiency savings.
If imposing rather than negotiating becomes the way of doing things then how long before there are further restrictions on industrial action, a no strike clause for doctors, nurses, teachers and social workers!
If the professionals views are to be discounted, devalued and dismissed then decisions will be based on efficiency not effectiveness, cost not quality, expedience not safety and the rightly criticised ,"doctor knows best" approach replaced by,"the minister knows best".
Blair McPherson former public sector director, author and blogger www.blairmcpherson.co.uk