Intended for healthcare professionals

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“We’re on the same side, really”: medical profession turns to soft power to influence policy

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 18 February 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:l707

Rapid Response:

Re: “We’re on the same side, really” but engagement can be two-pronged.

This article gives really good insight into how we can maximise our influence. It seems entirely logical that being a part of the discussion is much better than not. However, there is a real risk that by doing so, we can end up watering down our own stand and almost 'collude' with some of the decisions and outcomes. Are we really influencing the policy or making tweaks and resulting the decision to be less harmful?

More often than not, engagement from our own representative groups is also used by the politicians to propagate the very idea which then leads to disillusionment with the grass-root workforce. There are many who would rather go down fighting as ability to protest and disagree is also a part of our resilience. The frustrations of daily working are not only with the policies but also with some of our own whose engagement gives the politicians a 'green light' to pursue the idea in the first place when it would have been much harder to move forward otherwise.

When we feel that organisations that represent us are only going to 'influence', a soft power approach may actually lead to a worse compromise and adversely impact our morale.

Surely, there is perhaps, scope for both and the right time and the right battle for both i.e. soft power and hard power.

It is generally, the lack of unity within ourselves that results in failure and often, divided, we have fallen.

Competing interests: No competing interests

21 February 2019
Kamalpreet S Sidhu
General practitioner