When the time is right – and it may be very soon – doctors will have to stop working

Posted on

A doctor's primary duty when undertaking their activities is to do no harm.

The primary duty of a government employing them is to make sure that they can work in ways that mean that they need not cause harm.

Then, and only then, is a doctor personally accountable for their decisions.

Right now the UK government has, through its own negligence, decided to put the lives of doctors and other medical staff at risk by not supplying them with the PPE that they need.

And what the means is that not only are doctors putting their own lives ta risk - which we should not be asking them to do - but that they are also putting the lives of all those they move between in hospitals at risk, and that they are also putting their families and others that they meet in the community (and yes, the go shopping like the rest of us, where they will meet people) at risk as well.

A point will be reached - and I suspect it will be very soon - where doctors will say that the balance of those risks has shifted and that it would better for them not to work than to do so. The overall risk to society will be reduced by them not seeing patients in hospital.

Of course, people will die as a result. That is undeniable.

But the question of judgement is whether more will die as a result of doctors seeing those who are ill in hospital, and that might well become the case.

When that happens the consent that a key profession provides to this government will have been withdrawn.

But no one should see this as political. This is about duty.

The doctors would be honouring theirs.

The government has not honoured its.

And risk has to be balanced in that context.

Only one party is responsible for this mess. And doctors and the other medical and support staff they work with should not be asked to die in this situation.

The minimum duty of a government is to be competent. This one is not. And the price of that should be high. But doctors and other NHS staff should not be asked to die as a result.