If Jeremy Hunt thinks he can lie his way out of the doctors’ contract dispute, there’s something wrong with him

Does anybody remember when a normal working week was Monday to Friday, and if anybody wanted you to work on Saturday they paid one-and-a-half times as much as normal (time and a half), with Sunday work being paid a twice the normal rate (double time)?

Jeremy Hunt clearly didn’t, if he thought it was acceptable to reclassify Saturday work between 7am and 10pm as part of a junior doctor’s normal working week, payable at only the standard rate.

Those are the kind of working hours he would never consider himself – a situation highlighted in the letter by ‘Rachel’, published here on July 29. Alerting Mr Hunt that she intended to visit him at 3am, she wrote: “Really Mr Hunt, this is the 21st century and people have questions for their MPs 24 hours a day, not just during office hours. If I can buy a Tesco sandwich at 3am, I should be able to see a politician.”

She went on to point out the differences between what Mr Hunt was proposing for junior doctors and his own ministerial working conditions, as follows: “You should have anticipated that politics would become a 24/7 profession and if you won’t adapt, I’m going to just force your contract to change for no extra money.”

Ah, but MPs have just enjoyed an 11 per cent pay rise, haven’t they?

Jeremy Hunt has been forced into a partial climbdown in his dispute with NHS junior doctors in an attempt to stop their fury at a threatened punitive new contract spilling over into strike action.

The health secretary moved to defuse widespread anger at his threat to impose new terms and conditions on them by offering two major concessions and assurances that they will not see their pay cut or working hours extended.

Faced with England’s 53,000 junior doctors being balloted for industrial action, and amid growing unease at his handling of the row, Hunt has indicated that he is willing to rethink his plan to reclassify working on Saturday between 7am and 10pm as part of a junior doctor’s normal working week for which they would be paid at only the standard rate.

He has also pledged that existing financial incentives for recently qualified young doctors to go into emergency medicine or general practice – two areas struggling with too few medics – will continue so that the new contract does not exacerbate the existing shortages.

In a detailed and emollient letter to Dr Johann Malawana, the chair of the British Medical Association’s junior doctors committee, Hunt also sought to banish widely held fears that junior doctors – whose vital contribution to the NHS he lauded – would soon have to start working the 90-hour weeks that their predecessors did.

Source: Jeremy Hunt forced to backtrack in row over NHS doctors’ contract | Politics | The Guardian

According to the Graun, Mr Hunt’s letter not only says that the new contract definitely will neither cut pay nor introduce longer hours for junior doctors. It’s a bizarre claim to make, for the reasons This Writer has pointed out in the introductory paragraphs to this article: If imposed, the new contract will see weekday evenings and Saturdays up until 10pm reclassified as normal working hours. Doctors are currently paid extra to work outside normal working hours and the reclassification will clearly eliminate those extra payments. Furthermore, as the NHS wage bill is said not to be changed by the proposed new contract, it seems clear that somebody will be asked to work extra hours as well.

But Mr Hunt goes on to blame the BMA for trainee medics believing that it would do in the first place

“I am saddened by the distress being caused to junior doctors who were misled by the calculator on the BMA website into believing that their pay will be cut by 30% and that they will be asked to work many more hours each week,” his letter says.

Graun health policy editor Denis Campbell points out: “It is doubtful whether blaming the BMA – which has gained 5,000 new members in just 10 days until earlier this week – will persuade many to see it his way, especially given doctors’ widespread distrust of him.

“Some will surely see this as a classic divide-and-rule attempt to outwit a trade union.”

Divide and rule is the Tory way, after all. They get it from the Nazis.

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6 thoughts on “If Jeremy Hunt thinks he can lie his way out of the doctors’ contract dispute, there’s something wrong with him

  1. NMac

    It’s a very depressing thought, but he has successfully lied his way through for some years now, as have his nasty colleagues.

  2. Ram K Padmanaban

    Assault over assault on the Public from a minority elected government, People of one of the most advanced and richest Democracies can make slogans, shout and strike, you are about as powerful as that in this Democracy. Soon that will be taken away too.

  3. Adam Clifford

    After the personal slurs made by Cameron about Corbyn,the Tory MEPs voting against resolution on disclosing gender pay gap in EU,and this duplicity and denial from Hunt,it is obvious that what the tories say is completely untrustworthy.

  4. Noreen

    It is a given that Mr Hunt lies (he is a Tory) but the fact remains that if you are ill at the weekend you are very likely to not be treated by a consultant etc. I had a baby at the weekend years ago and the care was by untrained staff who messed up the delivery so much my child could have died or been injured. A consultant was called in at the last minute luckily for me but I cant list all the things they did wrong and I am very understanding of the NHS and its staff usually. The NHS does need to arrange for senior staff, not just Junior doctors to be around at the weekend as part of their job. They may moan but they get paid a fortune (most do private work for a good part of the week so that helps too) and knew when they trained for this job that people do not choose when they get ill. Before the NHS started if you could not pay then you might well just die of whatever illness you had and it is only because they have been forced to work for the state that doctors do anything but private work often ie if you let them do what THEY want………. I feel sorry for anyone who works hard and doctors no doubt do but so do many professions without the remuneration the medical staff get. Some jobs that are not well paid see staff risking their lives which doctors do not do mainly etc. Weekends should be part of NHS contracts for all doctors surely?

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      All grades of doctors DO work weekends.
      Jeremy Hunt is trying to downgrade the amount of pay they receive for this work.
      The claims that people are more likely to die if they seek medical help during weekends have around considerable anger in the medical profession and it seems likely there will be some form of legal action over it, as it seems the Tories are increasing the likelihood of harm to people who believe this propaganda and decide not to attend when their condition requires urgent, immediate treatment. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/oct/07/the-hunt-file-doctors-dossier-of-patients-put-at-risk-by-health-secretary
      As the article points out, it used to be automatic that weekend work would attract higher pay; Jeremy Hunt wants to remove this right for doctors. Don’t you think that’s just a little bit disrespectful?

  5. mrmarcpc

    He’ll probably get away with the plan he’s implementing to totally bugger up the NHS because the British are so stupid and lazy to realise that they’re being lied to with typical, tory spin and what his real agenda is, we should all be protesting against him and his plan, he’ll get his way, just you watch!

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