Patient safety comes first, of course – and if that cannot be guaranteed, then the junior doctors are right to change their strategy.
It also makes nonsense of Health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s supercilious claim: “It is in my view unethical to potentially inflict harm to patients in pursuit of what is a self-interested campaign.”
Both his allegations are refuted at once; the junior doctors never intended to allow harm to come to patients, and for that reason their campaign is quite clearly not self-interested.
If Mr Hunt thought he was being clever, he was gravely mistaken.
Perhaps he thought he was pushing the BMA into defeat.
Instead, he has pushed them into a PR masterstroke.
Dr Ellen McCourt, chairwoman of the BMA junior doctors committee, said the latest decision had been taken “in light of feedback from doctors, patients and the public, and following a passionate, thoughtful and wide-ranging debate amongst junior doctors”.
She added: “We still oppose the imposition of the contract and are now planning a range of other actions in order to resist it, but patient safety is doctors’ primary concern and so it is right that we listen and respond to concerns about the ability of the NHS to maintain a safe service.
“We hope the government will seize this opportunity to engage with junior doctors and listen to the range of voices from across the NHS raising concerns about doctors’ working lives and the impact of the contract on patient care.”
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