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25.04.16

Contract pilot proposal rejected as junior doctors set for first all-out strike

The first all-out strike of junior doctors in the history of the NHS is set to go ahead as last-minute efforts by all sides to broker a deal seem to have failed.

Junior doctors are preparing an unprecedented withdrawal of all care, including from emergency services, between 8am and 5pm tomorrow and Wednesday, in protest at an unpopular new contract.

A cross-party coalition of MPs wrote to health secretary Jeremy Hunt proposing that he pilot the contract, which has led to four strikes so far in protest, on a number of sites before introducing it nationwide, and also conduct an audit of mortality cases to find out if the government’s claims that the seven-day NHS will reduce the ‘weekend effect’ on unnecessary deaths are true. The letter was signed by shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander, the Conservatives’ own Dr Dan Poulter, Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb and the SNP’s Dr Philippa Whitford.


In response, Hunt said on Twitter: “We’re staging implementation to ensure it works as intended. Any further delay just means we will take longer to eliminate weekend effect.”



Hunt also wrote to Dr Mark Porter, chair of the British Medical Association (BMA), who are leading the strikes, asking him to call off industrial action and stating that although the contract was being imposed, the two sides should meet to discuss issues such as funding and staffing for the seven-day NHS, training and improving the work-life balance for junior doctors.

Clare Marx, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, backed the cross-party agreement, saying: “The current contract dispute is a lose-lose situation for all parties, especially patients.

“If the government proceeds with imposition in its current form it will inflict further damage on workforce morale and ultimately patient care. The planned industrial action is neither in the interests of the public nor doctors. Medical royal colleges have consistently called for an end to contract imposition and industrial action.”

The BMA, who are considering an indefinite walkout or mass resignations if this week’s strikes fail to bring about a resumption in negotiations, remained defiant, laying out new guidelines to mitigate the impact of the strikes upon patients.

The guidelines, co-agreed with NHS medical director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, say that consultants will cover work done by junior doctors but that a trust can make a request to NHS England that their junior doctors will be requested to return to work under “major and unpredictable circumstances” such as a serious incident or exceptional and sustained deterioration in performance which might endanger patients.

(Image c. Lauren Hurley from PA Wire and Press Association Images)

Comments

Clyde   26/04/2016 at 10:25

The more I listen to the Health Minster speaking, I get the felling he dosn't want a soluation, I am convence that wants this strike to happen.

Linda   27/04/2016 at 08:56

Clyde I cannot think there is any doubt. This govt is trying to do to the health sector what Thatcher did to the miners. If you read the papers released under 30 year rule they are terrifying - a lot of what Arthur Scargill said turned out to be true and that is evidenced by govt papers of the time. So glad to be retiring this year in fact trying to bring it forward by sticking to letter of practice agreement rather than the spirit. Problem is I do not want to leave colleagues in difficulty.

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