On 6th April, 2016, NHS Junior Doctors began their fourth strike in protest of the new contracts proposed by the government. These new contracts are, in a word, unfair and, in more unkind words, degrading, disgusting and morally wrong.
The new contracts being proposed include a whole spectrum of things that would have MPs furious if they were ever imposed upon them. Firstly, the biggest sticking point in my eyes, is the rebranding of 7am to 10pm as “normal working hours.” Not only is that on weekdays, but on Saturday as well. For those hours outside of that, dubbed “unsocial hours” the doctors would get only 30% extra pay. The people who work these unsocial hours are most often working in the high intensity roles such as Accident&Emergency and, thus, by reducing pay for them it makes them less attractive to work in and, overall, will result in a poorer service. Furthermore, the new contracts remove safeguards for doctor’s pay and well being.
The BMA (British Medical Association) walked away from negotiations with the health secretary Jeremy Hunt in October 2014. They had negotiated on the new contracts for a year but, after that time, the BMA felt that Hunt wasn’t actually interested in negotiating properly as he would not concede any ground on most of his points. It wasn’t negotiating at that point, it was the BMA being told time and time again that their opinions didn’t matter to our own health secretary.
I think people should also view strikes in a different light. The media is all too quick to demonise strikers but, in truth, no one ever wants to go on strike. It was the last thing the BMA wanted to do but they have been forced into it by the Tory government. A Tory government that doesn’t care about students, doesn’t care about doctors, doesn’t care about pensioners, doesn’t care about the poor, the needy and the disabled, and most recently we have found that they don’t even care about children, having taken away free school dinners for children with only one parent and forcing all schools to become academies. It’s both pathetic and diabolical what this government is willing to do to people for seemingly no true gain at all as the deficit is still huge, the wealthy pay less tax than when the tories came to power in 2010 and the national debt has spiraled even more out of control.
Support the Junior Doctors. Support the British people and the NHS.