January 2016 | Eanáir 2016

Lifting the Siege - #IrishMed Twitter Chat

Mon, 11 January 16 23:37

Lifting the Siege

#IrishMed Twitter Chat  - Lifting the Siege – Wednesday 27th January 2016 at 10pm GMT.

The Irish health service is under assault like never before. Please join us as we try to lift the siege.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

It doesn't take a genius to know that our health system is under pressure like never before. Patients on trolleys for hours or on waiting lists for years.  Doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals leaving their careers or their country in droves. Healthcare managers in dispute with patients, politicians and health unions.  Public discourse on health matters reduced to trolly counts or glib superficial promises of universal healthcare by a media increasingly driven by sensationalism and shock infotainment. Whistleblowers attacked and media leaks investigated rather than address the identified issues.  Despite billions of funds and hours of debate, our utopian vision for health is as far away as ever, it seems.

In recent years, there has been a growing evidence of how this environment is impacting negatively upon individual doctors and doctors in training. (Of course, the same impacts and pressures are being applied to nurses, physiotherapists, radiographers, paramedics and indeed everyone who works in or is cared for by the health system. For simplicity, we refer herein to doctors but you can substitute this profession for any other.)

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect to these interactions is the silencing of advocacy, the attacking of those who question and the lack of tolerance of dissenting voices.  A young doctor in training in the UK recently described her descent into suicidal ideation after being worn down by the pressures of caring within an under-resourced and seeming uncaring system. Irish doctors have similar stories to tell but what is most shocking is that many feel abandoned by their colleagues, their profession body, the Medical Council, their employers and by both the media and the general public. 

Many doctors feel under siege. Some feel bullied into silence.  Bullying exists in every environment. It doesn't matter if it is done intentionally or arise because everyone is feeling so besieged. The consequences are the same. It is distressing, debilitating and destructive. It is also stupid and counterproductive.

Fortunately good people do exist and many of them work in the Irish Health system. We would like you to join us for a Twitter Chat discussion on #IrishMed on Wednesday 27th January 2016 from 10pm until 11pm.

Our chat will focus on the following questions:

  1. How common place is bullying within your health system?  (Twitter Poll)      
  2. How does bullying manifest itself in practice?
  3. Is bullying inevitable within hierarchical structures?
  4. What practical steps can we take to minimise bullying?
  5. Would you intervene if you saw a colleague being bullied?  (Twitter Poll)
  6. How else can we lift the siege?                                         (Continue conversation on blab)

There is a limit at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue.


Further Reading

  1. By the end of my first year as a doctor, I was ready to kill myself, Anonymous junior doctor (Guardian, 5th January 2016) link
  2. Hospital consultants feel ‘undervalued and stressed’, Paul Cullen (Irish Times, 11 January 2016) link
  3. It’s time to make a stand, Dr Anthony O’Connor (Medical Independent, 26 June 2014) link
  4. Your Training Counts, Medical Council publication (2014) link

Guide to #IrishMed Twitter Chats

  • Twitter chats can appear at first glance quite chaotic and frenetic.  Don’t be afraid to jump into the conversation or to lurk in the background listening to the chat.
  • Please introduce yourself and tell us your perspective or current role.  All views are welcome and equally valid.
  • During the chat, the co-hosts will be presenting 5 topics for discussion.  Please preface your responses with T1, T2 etc.  This makes it easier to follow the conversation and helps collate the transcript.
  • Always include the hashtag #IrishMed in your tweet as this also helps raise the profile of the chat as well as assist in the collation of the transcript.
  • You might find it more convenient use tchat.io or tweetchat.com rather than the normal twitter feed.  It will also make sure that you don't forget hashtag #irishmed and fall foul of the Dr Farrell foreit!
  • After the chat, key statistics and the transcript will be available on symplur.com for all tweets that used the hashtag #IrishMed.

Continuing on Blab

For the more adventurous, our host will be continuing the discussion on the Blab video forum. Why not join us on this to?

[Blab Tutorial]


Paul Harkin is Director of Strategic Development at the UCD School of Medicine.  He is privileged to witness enthusiastic, optimistic and caring students enter our medical school.  He is troubled by the challenging working conditions which makes the Irish healthcare system an increasingly uncaring place.

#IrishMed is a a live twitter-driven event which takes place every Wednesday at 10 pm Irish time, on all things relating to Irish medicine, north and south. Tweets welcome from everyone, health care professionals, patients, carers; overseas comments also welcome. Founded by Dr Liam Farrell @drlfarrell  (UCD Medicine 1982)