Further strikes planned by junior doctors
A junior doctors’ strike has been planned and will go ahead on the 10th February, the British Medical Association (BMA) has said.
The strike will take place after a row was not resolved between junior doctors and the government over a new contract.
In 2014, talks broke down and the dispute got out of control, as ministers said they would impose a deal that meant doctors would have to work unsociable hours and created curbs to other elements of their pay package.
The Government says the new contract is necessary to improve NHS services on weekends and provide a seven-day service. They also say that studies show hospitals are less effective during those hours.
On the 12th January this year, some 38,000 junior doctors across England stood at the picket lines and staged a walk out. The protest, which was good natured and full of solidarity, was backed by 66 per cent of the public, according to results from an Ipsos MORI poll for the Health Service Journal.
Junior doctors believe changes in their contract will threaten the safety of their patents and dampen their morale.
There was an overwhelming vote from doctors to take action late last year by 98 per cent on a turnout of over 70 per cent.
Emergency care will remain in place during the 24-hour walk-out, despite initial plans for a full strike.
Doctors have pointed to previous academic evidence that strike action has had no effect on mortality rates, despite Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s opinion that strike action could endanger patients.
Dr Phil Atkinson, 32, from Bramhope, is a junior doctor working in anaesthetics. He said: “There has been a lot of misconception about the level of cover that is being provided on the strike.
“To put it in perspective, it’s exactly the same level of medical cover that’s present on a bank holiday. For example, when we had the Royal Wedding back in 2011, a public bank holiday was declared and –actually – on the strike day there will be a slightly better level of medical cover present than during the Royal Wedding because GP services will be open.”
He continued: “The insinuation that this is dangerous and that lives are being put at risk because of the strike is, quite frankly, laughable.
“It was deemed entirely safe to create a bank holiday for a wedding. There will be significant disruptions because there will need to be cancellations of planned operations and planned outpatient appointments to free up consultants to do some of the extra work in relation to emergency cover, but effectively this is not dangerous.”
Previously, David Cameron has warned in an interview that junior doctors could be forced to accept the new contract if an agreement is not reached voluntarily.
A Downing Street spokesman said: “We’ve made good progress in a number of areas. It’s regrettable the BMA has decided to proceed with further unnecessary industrial action. We will continue to stay at the table, stay talking.”
A spokesman for the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service said: “We’re ready to help if the sides involved in the junior doctors’ dispute wish to use our services again.”