Junior doctors – strike on February 10 to go ahead
The British Medical Association (BMA) has confirmed that junior doctors across England will be taking part in another day of industrial action this Wednesday, February 10.
The planned all-out strike – which would have been the first ever full walk out with no emergency care provided by participating junior doctors – has now been changed to a 24-hour emergency care only strike, between 8am on February 10 to 8am on February 11.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show at the weekend, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt dubbed doctors union the BMA “totally irresponsible” and accused them of spreading “misinformation” surrounding the ongoing dispute regarding proposed contract changes.
In response to a question on the issue of low morale among junior doctors, Mr Hunt countered: “One of the reasons for that anger is that they were told by the BMA that their pay was going to be cut – it isn’t.”
Thousands of junior doctors and supporters took to the streets again on Saturday to protest against the proposed contract changes, which they believe are ‘unfair’ and ‘unsafe’.
The BMA says it is still willing to engage in negotiations, blaming the strikes on what it describes as the “shambolic handling” of negotiations thus far.
The decision to go ahead with the strike comes as talks between the BMA, the Department of Health and NHS Employers again failed to reach a satisfactory conclusion over contract changes, which the government says are a necessary part of if its plan for more seven-day services.
BMA Junior Doctors Committee Chair, Dr Johann Malawana, says: "Junior doctors already work around the clock, seven days a week, and they do so under their existing contract.
"If the government want more seven-day services then, quite simply, they need more doctors, nurses and diagnostic staff, and the extra investment needed to deliver it."
He says Jeremy Hunt risks "alienating a generation of junior doctors and undermining the delivery of future patient care".
Dr Malawana says the BMA has negotiated in good faith with the Government over the past few months but had seen what he describes as “no willingness on their part to move on a core issue for junior doctors”.
“The Government misrepresents junior doctors as a block to a seven-day NHS, but they already work every day of the week. What we are asking is that this is reflected in fair and affordable recognition of unsocial hours.”
Dr Malawana says the public has shown its support for junior doctors who, he says, “deeply regret the disruption which industrial action will cause”.
“We have changed the form of the industrial action starting on February 10 so as to balance the need to send a clear message to a Government putting politics before patients while minimising disruption, with excellent care continuing to be provided by doctors and other NHS staff on the day,” he adds.
Speaking to Sky News, Shadow Health Secretary Heidi Alexander said Jeremy Hunt was effectively “insulting the intelligence” of junior doctors. She said: “This is a group of people who are incredibly intelligent, are able to make their own mind up, have read the proposals for themselves and have followed the negotiations very carefully.”
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