Doctors’ strike will be the first for 40 years as government imposes contract changes
Up to 38,000 junior doctors are expected to strike today in the highest profile clash of the public sector versus the government of the current administration.
For 24 hours, a significantly reduced medical workforce will only carry out emergency care, with over 4,000 routine appointments delayed.
Junior doctors are striking against government plans to impose new contracts the doctors say will directly affect the quality of care they can offer patients.
The strike is the first of three planned walk-outs called for by the British Medical Association (BMA) after it balloted 37,000 members.
Hunt on Strike?
Despite the substantial consequences of the strike, Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt has reportedly refused to give interviews today, prompting accusations that he is failing to deal with the crisis and that he too has “gone on strike”.
So @Jeremy_Hunt not giving interviews today means he’s on strike too? Is that how it works?
— Emma Kennedy (@EmmaKennedy) January 12, 2016
Jeremy Hunt is refusing to be interviewed today? So, like, he’s on strike?
— Robin Flavell (@RobinFlavell) January 12, 2016
The BMA cited concerns over the government’s proposed changes to junior doctors’ contracts. It said the contracts would mean junior doctors risk being overworked – resulting in dangerous conditions for patients. It also cited concern over weekend pay, and opportunities for career progression.
Cameron condemns strikes
NHS bosses have said that during the strikes, plans have been implemented to protect patients, but David Cameron said the strike could put patients at risk.
“You can’t have a strike on this scale in our NHS without there being some real difficulties for patients and potentially worse”, he said.
Midwives lend support
The Royal College of Midwives has pledged its support for the junior doctors, saying: “We stand shoulder to shoulder with our NHS colleagues on this issue, and the Royal College of Midwives offers its support to the junior doctors. Like midwives who took strike action over the past year I know that patient safety will be the number one priority for the junior doctors, and that steps will be taken to ensure that those who need care will receive it.”
Corbyn backs action
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said it is the government’s fault doctors have decided to strike. He said: “No NHS worker takes lightly the decision to strike, but the blame must be laid at the door of this government for the way it has treated doctors and now seeks to smear them in the press. It is time for this government to apologise to junior doctors and negotiate a fair deal that gets our NHS working again.”