A surgeon who posted a picture of himself mopping an operation theatre’s floor in response to Jeremy Hunt’s suggestion that doctors do not work weekends has thanked the outpouring of support he has received online.
The Facebook post, which has been shared 99k times and has attracted 125k ‘likes’, shows consultant Stuart Gould mopping the floor between operations – despite not being on call.
He has publicly questioned whether Mr Hunt is ‘misguided, misinformed or just plain ignorant’ in his plans to announce forced weekend working.
The health secretary has said that a ‘Monday to Friday’ culture in parts of the NHS has tragic consequences with 6,000 people dying each year because of this.
But the politician has been accused of attacking hardworking doctors and being too simplistic.
Along with his floor mopping picture, married Mr Gould, who lives in Hemel Hempstead and works for the North West London NHS Trust, said: "This is me. 10pm tonight. I am not on call. But I have come back to the hospital because my particular skills are needed. I am mopping the floor between operations to help the theatre staff so we can start the next case sooner.
"But this little story is not about me. It is dedicated to my team of young trainees. I refuse to call them juniors because they are my professional colleagues in training.
"They all stayed well beyond the call of duty to get my poor pt (patient) into theatre. My two assistants had been on call all day. They should have gone hours ago. But they stayed on with me until gone midnight to make sure I had help as it was mayhem elsewhere for the night team. 17 hour day for some of them. One can’t get home, has borrowed some pt toiletries and will be sleeping on the hospital floor.
"And guess what, they will all be at it again from 0800, as will the consultant anaesthetist with me.
"Sorry Mr Hunt but that is absolute professionalism. I can’t see lack of compassion, vocation or dedication anywhere. This is the sort of thing, on which the NHS DEPENDS to keep running and save lives, and that your ignorant remarks will destroy to the detriment of our Pts."
Currently, senior doctors can opt out of weekend work as long as it is non-emergency, but they are still expected to be on call.
Mr Hunt believes his reform will help to drive up standards over weekends.
In another post Mr Gould said: "Wonder whether he has ever spent a few days and a weekend or two in a frontline hospital to see how it works?
"Very irritating to see what appears to be spin with no substance and twisted facts "
The consultant has also praised his team via Facebook, saying: "I salute your dedication.
"Please remember politicians come and go and are largely quickly forgotten. You, on the other hand, will still be here – and must not let them destroy your absolute determination to see that our Pts get the best possible care, whatever the circumstances.
"Keep going, chaps…."
His mopping picture and statement has also received 3.6k comments and in a later Facebook post, Mr Gould said: "I would like to say a massive thank you here for the astounding outpouring of public support for the NHS and it’s staff.
"This post was never intended to do this, but it seems to have shown those that don’t work in the NHS just what happens behind the scenes, every day of the week and year, up and down the country, by all sorts of different NHS staff putting their patients first.
"I for one have taken huge encouragement to carry on from all the well wishes. I suspect a very large number of my NHS colleagues have as well.
Hopefully the DoH (Department of Health) will also have seen your massive support."