i wrote about him a while back. long time readers of MOADD will remember that a year ago current medical students petitioned the government/DOH/MMC people regarding the stupid system they had to use to apply to their first medical jobs after graduation (have a read here - sound familiar?) i at the same time condemned the medical student leadership in this country as being a bunch of sycophantic wankers. hmm... medical student reps... wankers... doctors' leaders... ineffectual pricks... everybody... sold down river... hmm. i feel there may be a connection here.
anyway my buddy orchestrated this petition against the moronic system. it got some press. it got noticed. for his troubles he got asked to join the MMC team to represent students and help make it better. he slowly realised that he was appointed to be used as PR, to silence the protesting masses. as a result he resigned his position in MMC. here are his eloquently polite yet damning letters to the mendacious serpents:
This is my letter of resignation, as sent to Professor Crockard 18/03/07.
I am sorry to inform you at what must be an impossibly busy time that I wish to resign from my position as medical student advisor.
When I took the position I had many reservations with the MMC systems but believed that I would be able to help students get the best deal from these changes. Seven months on, I retain these reservations and regret that I have not been able to have the impact I had imagined.
Now as then (when I presented you with a petition signed by 1300 students), I believe:
• The nature of the new application system effectively randomises medical students to jobs across the country
• The importance of academic achievement has been downgraded
• The importance of other achievements at medical school has been nullified by the nebulous nature of questions and the lack of a CV
• Two years is not long enough to decide on one’s specialty, to gain a broad enough range of experience, to become a good enough doctor: pressure is on to decide early, but the random nature of the application leaves no scope for strategising or planning ahead
• Morale at medical schools is low; they are not the aspirational, centres of excellence they should be, rather ‘centres of competence’
• This anxiety has filtered down to those students considering applying for a place at medical school
Through contact with a wide range of students over the last seven months, I know that these views are widely held. Just two nights ago, I talked to a Bristol student representing a group of 40 who echoed my above sentiments. I have, however, come to realise that continuing to transmit such views to the MMC team can have no effect as it is focused on the successful implementation of a system rather than the guiding principles and details of that system.
In my limited experience, the role of student advisor is not used, as MMC aspires, to ‘encourage dialogue with the stakeholders’. Instead the role seems to be a token attempt to suggest the involvement of students in MMC strategy; a publicity vehicle to lend validity to a system that has not, in fact, considered student opinion and insight at all.
When I was asked recently to find some students / SHOs who were happy with the new system to help build some positive press, I knew this role was not for me. I am not interested in spin or image, in making something seem other than it is. I am interested – perhaps naively - in getting the popular voice heard and acted upon and in standing by my own personal, political and professional principles. I now realise that in order to do this effectively, I need to be working within a different framework.
I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to fill the role and personally wish you all the very best for the future. I can honestly say that I have enjoyed meeting you and having the chance to work with you and the team as a whole.
This is my letter as sent to the CMO 31/03/07:
Dear Professor Sir Liam Donaldson,
I recently resigned as medical student advisor to MMC.
Despite claims from the health minister that the new Foundation Programme has ‘widely been acknowledged as a success’ there are, and always have been, huge misgivings about it at student, junior doctor and all other levels. I hoped that access to the MMC team would give me an opportunity to make these views heard. I was wrong. Although you continually tell us that you are ‘working with the profession’ you are not, at any level, listening to it. This is why I resigned: please find enclosed my letter of resignation to Professor Alan Crockard.
From a grassroots level upwards, your recruitment of those from the profession has been tokenistic at best. My role was little more than a publicity stunt. You want to be seen to be involving us but care little for the reality of what we actually have to say.
Even at the highest levels you have been seen to charge professionals with responsibility but withhold authority.
It is not my job to outline the infinite professional, personal and philosophical problems that blight your new systems – the 12,000 junior doctors who recently marched through London could do this more eloquently than I could ever hope to – but it is my job to expose the growing chasm between yourself and the profession.
Your agenda does not meet with the approval of the profession. You must acknowledge this. It is not acceptable for you to enlist members of the profession from all levels and to then ignore them. It is not acceptable to use your implementation team – MMC – as a vehicle for spin, as a way to convince the profession that things are other than they are. It is not acceptable for you to hide behind the responsibility you have dispensed to MMC and at the same time maintain your authority so you can push through your own agenda.
And yet, this is what you are doing. No matter what the profession says, no matter how vociferously it protests, no matter what damage is done to families up and down the country, this is what you will continue to do. How kind of Lord Hunt – at a time when faith in your systems is at its nadir - to illustrate the DoH’s utter contempt for the profession, by saying “I would like to reconfirm our commitment to MMC which aims to recruit and train the best doctors to provide the best possible patient care.”
This is your project. Everyone else – from MMC to MTAS, from the royal colleges to PMETB, from the advisors to the spin doctors – are merely your implementation tools. Ultimate authority rests with you. It is now time for you to take responsibility. If you continue to force through these reforms, I want you to know that it is obvious - even from a medical student level - that you are a million miles away from being the ‘bridge between the profession and the government’ that you claim: you could not be acting more undemocratically if you tried.
If you find this image unappealing, your options are clear: take heed of the groundswell against you and your agenda and cede your authority back to the profession. If this is also unpalatable to you, then you must resign.
what i love about the letters (apart from beautifully expressing the bigger picture of MMC) is the way they say FUCK YOU CUNT so politely. thinking about my buddy, he is actually the consumate gentlemen, even if he is from southampton.
anyways, he's far too busy with things that are bigger (or littler...) and more important than MMC at present, to which i wish him the best. i'm sure i'll see him soon and there'll be much to celebrate. it's a shame however that i am STILL keeping my pessimistic hat on: i don't think it'll make a difference to this imbecilic process. it is going to continue. at least with the march, the press coverage and letters like these, we can say that the medical profession in the UK, even if it was a bit too much too late, went down guns blazing.
see you soon dude. i've got a pint of guinness and some tea trolley treats waiting for you.
[i am listening to the new Kings of Leon song. they've shaved off their tashes. i'm distraught.]