“I am sorry, darling, I have to work.” I console my niece as I give her her birthday present early and explain why I won’t be going to her party. My niece is the closest thing I have to a daughter. It’s probably a good thing that she isn’t, as I have had the same excuse for her last five birthdays.
It has become second nature to apologise for missing birthdays, weddings and family holidays. My friends and family have come to terms with “duty calls” and no longer fight it. I am mostly met with “Oh that’s rubbish, we’ll miss you!” to which I am constantly found mumbling a rather pathetic “I am sorry” and off I am again to another shift of sorting out other people’s problems so that they may attend their birthdays, weddings and family holidays.
Most of us enter medicine with our eyes open; we know that it is more than just a job, it’s a lifestyle, and I was prepared for that. I knew it wouldn’t be easy and that sacrifices would have to be made. What I wasn’t prepared for were the apologies I would have to make.
I am sorry it’s not enough that I saved you when you were having a heart attack.
I am sorry you have had to wait 45 minutes to receive free treatment on the NHS.
I am sorry that despite having one of the best healthcare systems you are still unhappy and want more.
10 GCSEs, 4 A-levels, 5 years of university, £40000 debt, £6000 exam fees and a peptic ulcer later I DON’T WANT TO APOLOGISE.
We work very hard to get to where we are. We are overworked, underappreciated and underpaid, and now we risk losing the little bit of dignity we have left. Is what we do so futile and undeserving of any reward?
This fight isn’t about money. I would have become an MP if that had been the case. I want to receive a fair pay for the work I do. I DO NOT want to work more evenings, nights and weekends for the same pay. I DO NOT want to be penalised for starting a family and I DO NOT want to work without any safeguards.
So for the first time in a long time I will not apologise. I will not apologise for fighting for what I deserve, I will not apologise for trying to save the NHS and I will not apologise for wanting a better deal.
The NHS WILL NOT survive without us. So in the words of the great Katniss Everdeen (Hunger Games); “If we burn, you burn with us!”