Royal College leaders call for resumed negotiations in junior doctors’ strike

Leaders of two of Britain’s medical colleges have urged negotiations to resume in the junior doctors’ strikes to avoid harm to patients.

Professor Neena Modi, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), said that children’s healthcare was being put at risk because health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s decision to impose an unpopular new contract, including a reduction in the number of hours eligible for anti-social pay, would lead to shortages in junior doctors.

She added that trainee paediatricians were already under pressure due to factors including lack of support staff, government cuts to public health funding and NHS efficiency savings, and that eight trainee paediatricians had resigned in London in the past three months.

Professor Modi said: “The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health is dismayed and concerned by the current crisis within UK health services. We fully support the provision of effective and efficient primary and secondary healthcare seven days a week but deeply regret that this has been conflated with the imposition of a non-negotiated contract upon doctors in training.

“The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health wishes to put on record that it is becoming increasingly difficult to sustain the provision of safe healthcare services for UK children.

“We therefore call on HM government to suspend the imposition of the non-negotiated junior doctor contract, return with the BMA to the negotiating table, provide the investment needed to deliver safe and sustainable seven day services for children, and work with, rather than against the profession, to achieve the improvements in UK healthcare that we all seek.”

A Department of Health spokesperson said this was a medical royal college taking what seems to be a “deliberately pessimistic” position.

“The vast majority of the junior doctor contract was agreed with the doctors’ trade union and is a huge improvement in the way we reward trainee doctors,” said the spokesperson. “They will benefit from a 13.5% basic pay rise, longer breaks between shifts, and reduced hours.”

On Monday Dr David Richmond, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “The proposed all out strike is no longer just about the contractual changes. It is the last resort of an increasingly disillusioned workforce who feel undervalued and ignored by the Department of Health. The contract imposition will have long-lasting ramifications and it has only served to unite the entire medical workforce.

“The current ‘junior doctors’ will be our consultants and medical leaders of the future long after the present Secretary of State and current BMA leadership have left office. There is so much at stake and no room for intransigence that we implore both sides to return to the table as a matter of urgency.”

The latest figures from Health Education England show that junior doctors’ specialty take up has declined from 82% to 79% overall in the last year, from 96% to 84% in paediatrics and from 100% to 91% in obstetrics and gynaecology.

Junior doctors are due to strike again on 26 and 27 April, including an unprecedented withdrawal of emergency care.

Professor Terence Stephenson, chair of the General Medical College, and Sir Bruce Keogh, medical director of NHS England, have both urged junior doctors to consider the impact of the strikes on their patients.



Jddad   15/04/2016 at 13:43

The government are in denial about the state of the NHS. What catastrophy will it take for them to acknowlegde that they are presiding over an unfolding disaster of epic proportions.

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