REV DAVID FAREY: Our politicians need to learn to listen

David Farey SUS-160113-102615001

David Farey SUS-160113-102615001

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The other day in the chemists I was asked to sign a petition to go to government about changes which would substantially limit the number of pharmacists and the vital work they do.

It is another example of government moves which seriously impact an important aspect of community life. The two big stories in the news right now are the junior doctors’ dispute and the academisation of schools.

The government’s attempt to rewrite the doctors’ contracts is not going well. The politicians want to tighten the screw far beyond what is safe and wise in terms of maintaining a motivated, well rewarded staff able to work efficiently within adequate safety parameters. As I write, negotiations have been restarted to settle the dispute, but without assurances or hope that ministers will listen to the health practitioners’ cries.

The call for all schools to be compulsorily made into academies has gone down like a lead balloon. Mercifully that decision has been rescinded, but with cynical comment that the government will simply find ways to ensure that schools are deemed to ‘fail’ so that they have to become academies anyway! Professionals working within the system do not look favourably on a scheme which tears up contracts and agreed working patterns hammered out by years of experience and negotiation. A recent debate on the school SATs which are taking place in schools this week betrays the cynicism of politicians who when teachers have warned government of the stress pupils are being put under by these tests blamed the teachers for generating the stress, whereas it is the politicians who decree whether a school is failing based on the results of these tests.When Moses called on Pharaoh to let the enslaved Israelites go free he responded by telling them that they had to make the same number of bricks, but without the straw being supplied. Pharaoh disregarded the suffering of the people and tightened the screw even further. It would appear that this is exactly the same attitude of our government to the junior doctors and teachers. Just like Pharaoh they are deaf to the cries of pain and suffering and seek to drive already hard working and conscientious groups of people even harder. It is no wonder that so many teachers suffer from stress and are leaving the profession, why it is getting increasingly harder to appoint head teachers and that doctor recruitment is in crisis.

Pharaoh had to learn a painful lesson with plagues and death but justice prevailed and God rescued his people. I hope and pray that our politicians learn to listen to the people they are governing a little more closely and seek to work with them instead of against them!