What sort of society allows a contract through that admits it is prejudicial against women – particularly single parents?
That was the question posed by one doctor on Twitter yesterday, in response to an equality analysis of the new contract for junior doctors.
This document, released by the Department of Health yesterday (March 31), seems to be a propaganda piece that sets out to justify rampant sexism and other unacceptable conditions.
The British Medical Association has already launched a legal challenge against the Conservative Government over the contract, and the equalities document merely adds to its case.
Another legal challenge is being crowdfunded and, having reached its original target of £25,000, is now less than £11,000 short of its new goal of £125,000.
The contract is riddled with clauses that create an unnecessary and unjust burden on female doctors – along with weak justifications for them. The line is: “Any indirect adverse effect on women is a proportionate means of a legitimate aim”.
Nearly 60 per cent of junior doctors are women.
Here’s the issue in a nutshell:
The response from doctors has been overwhelmingly negative. They won’t accept a contract that discriminates against women – and This Writer applauds them for their principled stand.
So we have the following from Dr Aiofe Abbey: “Just home from long day. Seeing the junior contract news, my main thought is I need to find somewhere else to practice medicine. Somewhere I’m not disadvantaged “comfortably” for “proportionate ” aims.”
She continues: “Does saying discrimination is legal mean it is right? Of course not. I won’t list the times that’s been disastrous for society in past. The idea that NHS would engender into contract, discrimination of single parents is beyond contempt.”
Dr Paul Southall tweeted: “The wording of the DoH document on the impact of the junior contract for women is, quite frankly, astonishing in 2016.”
Here’s Dr Alex Gates: “Shocking piece of sexist discriminatory pre-suffragette dross. Dickensian junior contract openly discriminating against women. Just shocking. Junior doctors will walk.”
The BMA, announcing its judicial review, said it was taking this action because the Conservative Government had failed to pay due regard to equalities prior to imposing the contract.
BMA junior doctors committee chair Johann Malawana said it represented a ‘total failure’ on the Government’s part.
Dr Malawana said: “In trying to push through these changes, prior to imposing a new contract, the Government failed to give proper consideration to the equalities impact this contract could have on junior doctors.
“The Government’s shambolic mishandling of the process, from start to finish, has alienated a generation of doctors — the hospital doctors and GPs of the future — leaving a real risk that some will vote with their feet and the future of patient care will be affected.”
To support the crowdfunded legal challenge, visit the CrowdJustice website here.
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