As we embark on the longest walkout in NHS history, we want our members to know that we get how hard this year has been. Striking takes a toll physically, mentally and financially. We also know that burnout is a pervasive issue in our profession. Our survey in April found that more than 40% of junior doctors were experiencing depression, anxiety, stress, or burnout that had been worsened by the pandemic and 60% said their current levels of fatigue or exhaustion were higher than normal. Picketing can be tough work so we want to make sure you have some time for rest and recovery.
This time round, we’re not asking you to picket on all five days, instead we’re asking that you come down to support the picket lines on the Thursday only, between 8am and 10am. This way, we can come together to show our solidarity with one another, but also give doctors a chance to recharge and get ready for returning to work.
Please use your down time over the weekend in particular to switch off, whether that’s through seeing friends and family, getting out and about or staying at home. None of us want to be on strike but there are lots of ways to use the time to support your mental and physical wellbeing. If you’re stuck for ideas, here’s some inspiration:
- Get some fresh air and take a strike hike with colleagues
- Organise a 5-side match (football, rounders, netball, whatever floats your boat) and head down to the local park
- Dig out a book to get into on the sofa or out in the garden if you have one
- Go for a picnic or have a BBQ with your mates
The only thing you need to bear in mind is that there is always the possibility of derogations, so please don’t make distant travel plans. Rest and recharge, but stay local.
Don’t let anyone make you feel that taking some down time during this period of strike action is indulgent or wrong. The most important thing you can do is to withdraw your labour. We are grappling with ever growing workloads, mounting pressures and cuts to our pay. Not being exhausted and stressed out is key to doing the best you can. What’s more, we are going to need to draw on every last ounce of our resilience over the next few months to see this campaign through. We know you have the stamina for the road ahead, but taking time out when you get the chance is essential.
Of course, if you do feel you want to picket on the Friday and Monday too, then please do go down with your colleagues. Just know there is no pressure to do so, spending time socially with your colleagues on these days is also a valuable use of your time.
Stick together, strike together, win together.