What’s the next option for Jeremy Hunt?

Jeremy HuntJeremy Hunt would appear to be in a difficult situation.  His threat to impose changes to doctor’s contracts in the drive to create a seven day NHS has directly resulted in a defiant and militant response.

First there was the avalanche of #ImInWorkJeremy posts on twitter.  Now a group of NHS doctors have responded with a stinging post in response to the government’s reply to a petition that has almost 200,000 signatories calling for a vote of no confidence in the Secretary of State for Health.  This post goes beyond the issue of weekend working and accuses Mr Hunt of ‘misinformation’, ‘failure to engage with professionals’ and ‘alienating the entire workforce of the NHS’.

The eleven writers are supported by GP Survival which claims to have over 2500 followers and growing.  The difficulties appear to be going beyond his relationship with NHS Consultants.  It’s difficult to see a way forward from Mr Hunt without either loss of face or implementation of his threat which can only lead to greater friction.

Stepping back from the political arena for a moment, what can doctors learn from this situation that can be applied to the everyday work environment?

One point to consider is that every day, doctors are required to influence one another, their teams and their management in order to get things done and done properly.  There are a number of models which outline the range of tactics which are available to exert influence.  The following set of tactics is derived from the eponymous titled 2005 book by The Mind Gym.

1:  Reason – explaining the facts and putting the logical argument

2:  Inspire – painting a vision of the future, appealing to the emotions

3:  Coach – using questioning techniques which encourage others to make their own conclusions

4:  Feel Good – flattery or celebrating what you appreciate

5:  Deal – offering something in return

6:  Favour – simply asking for help

7:  Silent allies – peer pressure and referring to the success of others

8:  Authority – Utilising hierarchy and the rule book

9:  Force – including threats and warnings.

To the aggrieved doctors, The Secretary of State for Health seems to have failed to win the argument with the tactics near the top of the list – ‘deliberately using poorly evidenced, inflated figures to win headlines and generate fear’.  He has then jumped to the bottom of the list, resulting directly in destructive open conflict.

Which of these tactics do you rely on in your everyday practice and which could you use more often?


Oxford Medical Training is the UK’s leading provider of high quality career development for doctors of all levels.  We specialise in advancing interview, leadership, management, teaching and communication skills in the medical environment.  Influencing skills are discussed during a number of our courses including our 3 Day Leadership & Management Course for Doctors and our 2 Day Advanced Communication Skills Course for Doctors.