Rank-and-file junior doctors have warned Jeremy Hunt he must make further concessions on proposed new contracts to prevent them striking or taking other industrial action over pay and weekend working.
More than 2,000 medics and students have written to the health secretary saying his attempts to impose new terms and conditions on 53,000 NHS staff “remain unfair to doctors and unsafe to patients”.
Their reaction to Hunt’s attempt to defuse the anger of many junior doctors in England has become public before the British Medical Association (BMA), their trade union, officially responds to the government’s move.
But the warning shot fired by the self-styled The Junior Doctors indicates continuing grassroots opposition to the new contracts despite Hunt’s effort last Thursday to quell unrest.
Hunt indicated that he was prepared to reconsider his plan to reclassify working on Saturdays between 7am and 10pm as part of the normal working week for which doctors would only be paid at the standard rate.
He also promised that existing incentives for qualified young doctors to go into emergency medicine and general practice, where there are shortages, would continue.
By Sunday afternoon, the junior doctors’ letter, sent to Hunt on Saturday and a copy of which has been given to the Guardian, had been supported by 1,618 junior doctors, 193 consultants or GPs and 198 medical students, most members of the BMA.
The letter questions using complex data on higher mortality in hospitals at weekends to justify government policy behind the proposed contracts. It points out that Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS England’s medical director, is co-author of a BMJ article last month which says in a section interpreting the “weekend effect” in hospitals: “It is not possible to ascertain the extent to which these excess deaths may be preventable, to assume that they are avoidable would be rash and misleading.”
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Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS England’s medical director, is co-author of a BMJ article last month which says in a section interpreting the “weekend effect” in hospitals: “It is not possible to ascertain the extent to which these excess deaths may be preventable, to assume that they are avoidable would be rash and misleading.””
Unfortunately, pointing out factual errors and/or professional opinions that counter Tory policy to one of its ministers is a pointless exercise. However, adding the threat of with-holding one’s services and if that looks as if it’s going to be effective that usually brings a swift compromise. It is over-whelming power they respond to and fear. Not least because when it’s effective their reputation/power is shown not to be invincible, which gives hope and encouragement for others to follow the doctors’ example. I’ve mentioned this before, but it appears that some professionals and their representative bodies are starting to muster for a battle with this government. I suspect the Tories will avoid this at all costs, nonetheless, there is no shortage of fruit-cakes in ministerial positions, at present.
They seem to be forever working themselves up to perform some supreme act of wickedness – and then pulling back. Working UP – and pulling back. As though they realise, from the feelers they’re putting out, that the public won’t stomach an outrage this great. So they retrench at a lesser position that they think we will tolerate.
So far, it seems they have been right – or lucky.
But people are going to get tired of this endless cycle. If I’ve realised what’s going on, others will also. How long before impatience with this behaviour spills over into outright anger?
Feels like a similar attack on the law. Only the rich will be able to access help from doctors and lawyers. Sounds a bit like China, not a democracy . It looks like pure propaganda
Everyone should have the right to industrial action – it’s the only way employees can stand up to employers (which of course is why the government and the billionaire-owned newspapers are so against it).
Put a question to the People …… Trident or The National Health ? …. Bolster The NHS with most of the Money saved from Trident, put the remainder elsewhere of benefit to the People!