Jeremy Hunt’s bullying has just triggered the first all-out strike in the history of the NHS

Support us and go ad-free

Junior doctors have just announced plans to move towards the first “all out” strike in the history of the NHS.

The proposed strike is a direct response to the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s plans to force a new employment contract onto junior doctors next year. The contract reform is part of the ‘seven-day’ NHS service Mr Hunt aims to roll out across the country in 2016.

A ballot for industrial action from the British Medical Association (BMA) went out to around 30,000 junior doctors, after Mr Hunt’s eleventh hour attempts to water down some of the contract terms were branded “misleading” and unsafe.

Why are they striking?

The contract has been fiercely criticised due to a clause that affects how junior doctors are paid. Recently Hunt announced to the press that he was offering junior doctors a basic pay rise of 11 per cent. However, it soon emerged that the term ‘increase’ was misleading, because the latest offer was actually less than the 15% previously offered by NHS Employers.

Also, the clause does not appreciate the fact that most doctors’ salaries are reliant on additional money from overtime hours, which will be cut. In real terms, news reports have suggested that the changes could slash their salaries by an estimated 26%.

Johann Malawana, the BMA’s junior doctor committee chairman, said the basic pay ‘increase’ would be

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

Offset by changes to pay for unsocial hours – devaluing the vital work junior doctors do at evenings and weekends.

Low pay isn’t the only issue. Junior doctors are concerned about the safety of the new contract; pushing an already exhausted workforce to breaking point, reducing training opportunities, and unfairly penalising part time workers.

The Government is refusing to listen to these concerns and maintains that the new contracts will be implemented from August 2016. However, the BMA has made it clear that it won’t return to the negotiating table until the contract reform is scrapped, and will fight back until their members’ concerns are taken seriously.

What would this strike look like?

Until now, the BMA suggested it would limit the strike to an “emergency care” level of service –  similar to the ‘skeleton staffing’ levels seen on Christmas Day. However the new plan involves an “emergency care” day, lasting 24 hours on December 1st, followed by a full walk out from 8am until 5pm on December 8th and December 16th.

The result of the BMA’s ballot will decide whether this strike goes ahead. It closes on Wednesday 18th November at 5pm; the result will be made public on the 19th.

In an email to all members in England, BMA council chair Mark Porter wrote:

We are releasing this information at this early stage because we want to give as much notice as possible. It sounds like an oxymoron when talking about industrial action, but we genuinely want to minimise any disruption to other NHS staff and, above all, to patients. Our dispute is with the Government and our ballot for industrial action is a last resort in the face of their continued intransigence.

Jeremy Hunt is now left with two choices: to properly fund his seven-day NHS, or to tear up his new contract for junior doctors. Either choice would be preferable, both for medics and their patients.

Featured image via Flickr Creative Commons

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed