Online newspaper bids to undermine junior doctors before contract referendum


The industrial action by junior doctors was prompted by the Conservative government’s threat to impose a new contract with unfair and unsafe pay and working conditions.

It should come as no surprise to anyone to learn that The Independent is not so independent after all.

The online paper, which supported the Conservatives in last year’s general election, has published revelations that junior doctors in the British Medical Association (BMA) talked about “drawing out” their contract dispute with the government for more than a year.

So what?

Perhaps Whitehall correspondent Charlie Cooper hasn’t noticed, but the BMA has reached a tentative agreement with the Department of Health (dependent on a referendum among junior doctors to be held next month).

They might have talked about “drawing out” the dispute, but they didn’t actually do it.

And doesn’t that indicate that they were really saying they would only prolong the dispute if the Conservative government continued to be unreasonable? This Writer thinks so.

The paper notes that Dr Johann Malawana stated publicly that a solution could be reached if the government was willing to negotiate. This is precisely what happened, so why does Mr Cooper’s article go on to attack him for suggesting an alternative – that didn’t happen, remember – in a meeting five months before that solution was reached?

It goes on to say that Dr Malawana said members needed to “play the political game of always looking reasonable”. This is wise advice – especially in a country where right-wing biased newspapers publish stories like today’s Independent screed.

What exactly is the point?

Perhaps the government is concerned that the referendum of junior doctors in June will result in a vote against the agreement that is being put forward.

Perhaps the WhatsApp leak has been arranged to undermine any such vote – make it seem as thought the junior doctors were planning an unreasonable response, even if they turn out to have very good reasons for continued opposition.

Perhaps the Independent is complicit in this attempt to undermine the junior doctors, along with the integrity of the National Health Service in England itself. Remember, the contract as originally stated would have been hugely harmful to the public.

It has often been said that we should evaluate people (and organisations) by what they do, not what they say.

If so, then we can all judge the BMA – and the so-called Independent – for ourselves.

The junior doctor leadership of the British Medical Association discussed “drawing out” their contract dispute with the Government for more than a year, a huge leak of private messages sent between the union’s committee members reveals.

Despite publicly stating throughout their dispute that a solution could be reached if the Government was willing to negotiate, Dr Johann Malawana suggested to junior doctor committee members in December that “the best solution may actually [be] to draw this right out” and proposed “a strategy that tied the DH [Department of Health] up in knots for the next 16-18 months”.

The messages, contained in a WhatsApp group, dated between November and May, were leaked to the Health Service Journal. A BMA spokesperson said the “private discussions” should not be mistaken for the settled view of the BMA’s junior doctor committee.

In another message, dated January 4th, Dr Malawana described renewed negotiations supported by Acas as “rubbish”, but reminded members of the need to “play the political game of always looking reasonable.”

Source: Huge leak of data reveals junior doctors leaders discussed drawing out dispute for a year | UK Politics | News | The Independent


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6 thoughts on “Online newspaper bids to undermine junior doctors before contract referendum

  1. Brian

    The thing with on-line news, is it’s easier to click a button when the content is rubbish, than put a news paper down. The Independent will find this out to their cost.

    1. Phil Lee

      Indeed it should be reported – the public have a right to know that a reporter or news outlet is politically biased.

      1. hayfords

        Why is it biased to reveal that the BMA was deliberately trying to prolong the dispute, especially with the hazards to patients that strikes would bring? It indicates negotiating in bad faith. It also highlights the political bias of the BMA which was reported by several commentators.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        Except of course that the BMA did not try to prolong the dispute. As soon as the DoH started to behave reasonably, the BMA responded in kind and an agreement was devised between them.
        So: No deliberate dragging-out of the dispute; no hazards to patients because of BMA activities; no negotiation in bad faith.
        The political bias of the BMA is not mentioned and its members are allowed to have their own political views, as are you.
        But don’t try to lie to my readers about what happened.

Comments are closed.