On the first of three planned days of industrial action, junior doctors and other NHS professionals are standing united in order to oppose an employment contract that despite being widely seen as ‘unsafe’, is still being forced through by Jeremy Hunt and his team.
Throughout the recent weeks of meetings and talks about the junior doctors’ contract, the government has still failed to concede that the proposed changes are dangerous to patients and to doctors.
The dispute is not only about pay – in fact, most doctors would see an overall reduction (and not rise) in wages as a result of the contract – but also about the extended hours doctors will have to work. For many, this means they will have very little chance of maintaining a life outside of work and spending time with their families, (which is already difficult to do when shifts do not start and end as they may seem to do on paper).
Extended hours would also force doctors to work far beyond what is recommended, so they would be even more vulnerable to stress and exhaustion, making them more prone to making mistakes, which could ultimately endanger the lives of patients.
Now almost two-thirds of junior doctors across the country are striking. They are keen to stress that although many of them are on picket lines, there is emergency care in all hospitals, so people can use these services as normal.
We spoke to doctors ar Whipps Cross Hospital in Leytonstone doctors to get their views on the issue. Dr Niki Fitzgerald who is also one of the British Medical Associations (BMA’s) local negotiating committee member said:
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Patients are always our first priority, but we know this contract is unsafe and unfair for both staff and patients.
The government is leaving us with no choice but industrial action. Despite the scare-mongering, the hospital will be open today but like a weekend, with consultant-led cover.
Dr. Clare Coyle who works in cardiology explained:
Tired doctors make mistakes…the government has failed to engage with our concerns about safeguarding.
Dr. Emily Goodchild also added:
The Government’s actions threaten patient safety and the future of the NHS.
From members of the public sharing their support:
— Mark Russell #NHSLove (@RedtigerMark) January 11, 2016
— Tricia 💫 (@TriciaWonders) January 12, 2016
Doctors are to Cameron what miners were to Thatcher. If he can break them he can break NHS. We cannot let it happen. Our lives depend on it.
— Marcus Chown (@marcuschown) January 12, 2016
Political groups came out in support:
— Jeremy Corbyn for PM (@JeremyCorbyn4PM) January 12, 2016
MPs themselves also were keen to spread the word:
Please RT people! https://t.co/dZHPIlqKtW
— Diane Abbott (@HackneyAbbott) January 12, 2016
— John McDonnell MP (@johnmcdonnellMP) January 12, 2016
The strike started from 8am on 12th January and will continue on until 8am 13th January. The next two dates proposed are Tuesday 26th to Thursday 28th January from 8am until 8am, (where there will be emergency care provided again) and Wednesday 10th February from 8am until 5pm where there will be no provision of emergency care, (complete withdrawal of labour).
The BMA has more information about the dispute between junior doctors and the government.
Sign this official petition against the Junior Doctors’ Contract. It expires in March 2016 – if we get together we, can show the Government how strongly we oppose it.
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