Junior doctors and supporters protest outside St Thomas’ hospital, London, in April [Image: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters].

Junior doctors and supporters protest outside St Thomas’ hospital, London, in April [Image: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters].

It seems the BMA has all but given up resisting the hugely dangerous junior doctors’ contract – but the doctors themselves have not.

This puts the NHS in an extremely difficult position.

Doctors are calling for the establishment of a new union that will take a more robust stance against health secretary Jeremy Hunt and his stealth plan to ruin the NHS by starving it of resources and forcing doctors into impossible working conditions.

Meanwhile the BMA is weakly complaining that it is still planning “alternative forms of protest”, as if that means something.

Doctors have a right to be angry. They have been let down by their representatives.

But they should not allow their anger to lead them into the Conservative Government’s hands.

It is easy to make a mistake, and the Tories will take advantage of anything they can find.

But with the contract due to come into force next week, time is running out.

The British Medical Association is facing a major backlash from angry members and an exodus by medics disillusioned with its “appalling” handling of the bitter junior doctors’ dispute.

There has been a spate of resignations from the doctors’ union after it announced, then called off, a series of five-day all-out strikes in a failed attempt to stop the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, imposing a controversial new contract on the 54,000 trainee medics in the NHS in England.

Members are accusing the BMA of being “spineless” and “incompetent” and of betraying junior doctors, and there are growing calls for the creation of a rival trade union to represent them. BMA leaders, one of whom admitted privately that it has ended up “in a big mess”, are worried that its handling of the year-long contract row has left it divided and weakened in defeat.

Junior doctors have inundated their Facebook discussion group with angry messages about the BMA and Dr Ellen McCourt, the chair of the union’s junior doctors committee (JDC). Some have posted screengrabs of cancelled direct debit forms, showing that they are rescinding their membership.

“I don’t want to just cancel my direct debit. I want to tell the BMA why I am withdrawing my subscription. I want to tell them how spineless they have been,” said junior doctor Mukhtar Ahmed.

He criticised the BMA for endorsing in May a revised contract that it had negotiated without seeking members’ views. The contract was later rejected by 58% to 42% in a referendum among junior doctors.

“I want them to know that these series of blunders have not only lost us this fight, but any future fight and the NHS as a whole. I believe in the power of the union but not this one,” Ahmed said.

The BMA is examining alternative forms of protest against the contract, which will start being imposed from next week. It is due to announce details this week, though the options under consideration are believed not to involve any form of industrial action, such as a work-to-rule or refusal to do overtime.

Source: BMA facing backlash from members over handling of contract dispute | Society | The Guardian

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