The Richmond Review, Wednesday, May 27, 1981


by Graeme Elliott


As the recent dispute between the doctors and the government for a fairer fee schedule unfolded, it became obvious the doctors, long shielded from the real world, are new hands at negotiating with hard-nosed bottom-liners, and are ignorant of basic bargaining rules learned long ago by the unions.
You doctors need help, and, in the interest of fair pay, are invited to use the following tips the next time you leave the oepraling table and head to the negotiating table.
Blame the government. Plead poverty. Play the under-dog. Inconvenience the public. These are the cardinal rules. By diligently applying them, your next round of negotiations will be a successful operation.
Restructuring your public image is the first hurdle; after that, the rest is easy. Pleading poverty helps.
Get rid of the plush office furnishings. Tacky chrome and vinyl chairs will do.
Drop the subscriptions to "Tax Loophole Quarterly," "Big Bucks," and "Money. "Scatter old copies of "M.D. Miracle Worker on a Shoestring," and "Dr. Goodlee Kind's Adventures with the Poor and Starving," on the arborite end tables.
Leave at home the BMW wiih the licence plate reading "M$D." Drive lo work in a beat-up Toyota, sporting a sign advertising your name, telephone number, and a slogan such a" "Free Diagnoses." or "Elect Surgeries, not Politicians."
Better still, take the bus to work. Carry your medical bag in one hand, a lunchbucket in the other.
Drop golf. Join bowling leagues. Be seen at Bingo parlours.
Keep quiet about your real estate investments. Chat with patients about vour moonlighting as a janitor to make ends meet. Look slightly haggard.
Dress loudly and cheaply. Apologize for your ill-fitting gowns and smocks by saying "well, you know the price of clothing these days."
Tactics such as these will greatly improve your public image.
As negotiations draw near, step up the campaign.
When a patient leaves your office, say to your assistant. "I could save her arm, if I could afford that new equipment. Damn government." Everyone will hear.
Fix a patient with a frank, but compassoinate look and say, "This is going to hurt like hell, but I cannot afford anaesthetic. Damn government."
Make bitter, obscure jokes about the Neilsen ratings.
After a couple of years of this, the public will be screaming for a better deal for the doctors. The Opposition will be demanding a Royal Commission look into government malpractice.
With everyone behind you, wait until just before an election to start negotiations. Then, demand everything. The sky is the limit. Let loose the militants.
Once negotiations are underway, quietly begin to inconvenience the public, whiie openly blaming the government. Threaten job action.
If a few people are too inconvenienced, accept that as the price a few must pay fo the good of the many doctors. Arrange lots of media coverage and link government policies with the unfortunate-incidents.
Make-sure the T.V cameras and mikes capture the pathos of a scene of a dejected doctor, head in hands, saying "a few dollars more, and I could have saved him "
Or a doctor talking to a T.V. reporter, saying "He thanked me for doing all I could, and then uttered his last words!"
"What were those words, doctor"
"Damn government."

Scanned from original newsprint or photocopies using OCR, Epson Perfection 2450 Photo scanner. © GE


Last updated: Sunday, 15-Feb-2009 02:21:33 EST