Junior doctors plan new strikes

JUNIOR doctors are planning a new series of strikes in their long-running fight against the new contract that the Government is trying to impose on them.

The Government wants to effectively abolish weekends and have hospitals running on Saturdays and Sundays exactly as they would any other day of the week. The junior doctors object to this on two main grounds. The new arrangements would affect the extra pay that they now get for doing weekend shifts and, secondly, there are simply not enough resources — doctors, nurses, admin and other staff — and not enough money in the already financially struggling NHS to make this plan work. They see it as part of the global neo-liberal agenda to dismantle the NHS bit by bit because it is a service provided free at the point of use — and that is anathema to the neo-liberal dogma of the Tories, Liberal Democrats and right-wing Labour — that nothing should ever be provided free because that is wasting a chance to make a profit.

The junior doctors understand that trying to implement Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s plan will tear the NHS apart, causing an insoluble financial difficulties to NHS trusts, bankruptcies and a serious deterioration in the quality of services provided. They say the new contact is “unfair and unsafe”.

The new strike plans follow several strikes earlier this year that ended with an agreement on both sides to talk. But these talks have failed.

Just last week a Government report prepared by civil servants confirmed the doctors’ claim that the new seven-day-a-week working plans cannot be implemented without a massive injection of new funds and resources.

The new strike plans will involve five consecutive strike days every month until the end of the year. The plans were leaked to the Daily Mail on Tuesday ahead of that day’s meeting and later confirmed on social media by Dr Ellen McCourt, who chairs the junior doctors’ committee, and who condemned the leak as a betrayal.

“I will propose an ongoing programme of five consecutive days of 8am-5pm full walk-out, starting in September, repeated every month,” she wrote.

“Whilst someone continues to betray our trust, put their own agenda first and risk our collective action to protect the careers of 50,000 junior doctors, the future of the medical workforce, and the NHS our patients demand, we remain professional and measured. “This is likely to be a tough few days, and whilst leaks like this only make it tougher, I have complete faith in you, the resilient junior doctors, the supportive medical and allied health colleagues and all the public who know and back our ongoing dispute.” In July junior doctors voted by 58 per cent to reject a revised contract following renewed negotiation held in May. The Government has said it will impose the contract from October.