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

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l707 (Published 18 February 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:l707

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

The idea of medical leaders embracing soft power is a welcome development from those whose jobs involve working for the interests of their members; whether they be leaders of Royal Colleges, Trade Unions, or on the inside of NHS Trusts. Certainly a group of us in healthcare struggled to get on board with picket lines of 2016 - perhaps cynically (but ultimately realistically?) assuming the 'hard power' approach was doomed from the start. Government has rarely given ground to those in direct opposition and it is a relief to read of College leaders embracing a more 21st century approach to negotiation.

Perhaps 2019 can be the year of 'smart power'? The hard power approach of the strikes certainly galvanised the body of juniors soon to be affected by contract changes, but with antagonism against those in whose hands the decisions rested. Combining the uniting force of industrial action with a more soft power approach from those in the upper echelons may pay dividends when the next round of changes inevitably cross the horizon. One thing is as a sure bet - Government and the BMA will fight differing standpoints again in the not-too-distant future - perhaps next time the BMA hold the hard power and our Colleges the soft?

Competing interests: No competing interests

30 March 2019
Gethin P Hopkin
FY1 Geriatric Medicine
Liverpool, United Kingdom