The reason this blog is drawing yet another story about the junior doctors’ dispute to your attention, dear reader, is the fact that Jeremy Hunt is claiming a strike will harm patient care – when the evidence says it won’t.
Take a look at this, from Doctors’ strikes and mortality: a review:
“A paradoxical pattern has been suggested in the literature on doctors’ strikes: when health workers go on strike, mortality stays level or decreases. We performed a review of the literature during the past forty years to assess this paradox… We identified 156 articles, seven of which met our search criteria. The articles analyzed five strikes around the world, all between 1976 and 2003. The strikes lasted between nine days and seventeen weeks.
“All reported that mortality either stayed the same or decreased during, and in some cases, after the strike.
“None found that mortality increased during the weeks of the strikes compared to other time periods.”
Hunt earlier said resistance to working more over weekends was akin to passenger planes taking off without co-pilots because it was the weekend. He said doctors could face being sanctioned by the General Medical Council if they failed to ensure there were safe arrangements in place for patient care if they withdraw their labour.
He said: “The GMC guidance is very clear: doctors should satisfy themselves individually that there are safe arrangements in place for patients if they withdraw labour.”
A spokesman for the BMA said: “The decision to take industrial action was not taken by a small group of people: it was a course of action voted for by 28,000 junior doctors, 98% of those balloted on a turnout of 76% of our membership.
“We regret the inevitable disruption that this will cause but it is the government’s adamant insistence on imposing a contract that is unsafe for patients in the future, and unfair for doctors now, that has brought us to this point. Rather than attacking junior doctors, the secretary of state should be taking up the BMA’s offer to discuss how we resolve this dispute through Acas. It was disappointing that he appears already to have rejected this already.”
Doctors are worried that the new contract will greatly extend the hours in any week for which they are paid basic rates of pay – from the current finish time of 7pm on weekdays to 10pm and, crucially, including Saturday until 7pm for the first time.
They are also concerned safeguards that prevent hospitals from forcing them to work dangerously long hours, and the current banding system that dictates how much they are paid, especially in overtime, will disappear.
Oh – and Hunt isn’t the only Tory pushing the nonsense interpretation of the junior doctors’ strike. Here’s Dr – Dr – Sarah Wollaston on Twitter:
Tory policies will do the harm – if junior doctors allow them to be forced on medical staff and patients alike.
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