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Sep
2016
Friday 2nd
posted by Morning Star in Britain

Junior docs on verge of week-long strikes as Health Secretary runs away from new BMA offer


by Peter Lazenby
JEREMY HUNT stubbornly refused to agree to talks yesterday to avert more strike action by junior doctors over the imposition of damaging contracts.
The junior doctors will strike for five days from 8am on Monday September 12 with more strikes expected later.
But the Health Secretary ignored yet another offer from doctors’ union the British Medical Association (BMA) to cancel the strikes if he withdraws imposition of the contracts to allow further talks.
BMA junior doctors committee chairwoman Dr Ellen McCourt said: “We have a simple ask of the government: stop the imposition. If it agrees to do this, junior doctors will call off industrial action.”
Mr Hunt is insisting that the contract be implemented — making doctors work more with no extra funding — despite the concerns of the BMA and junior doctors that it could be the last straw for overworked staff already stretched to their limits.
Dr McCourt said: “Since July, the BMA has made repeated attempts to work with the government to address the concerns that junior doctors have raised about the contract.
“Genuine efforts to resolve the dispute through talks have been met with an unwillingness to engage and, at times, deafening silence from the Secretary of State, leaving junior doctors with no choice but to take further action.
“This is despite a pledge from Jeremy Hunt that his door is always open.”
Shadow health secretary Diane Abbott said Mr Hunt should “scrap” the contract and re-enter talks with junior doctors.
She said: “The NHS is only as strong as the morale of its staff. The junior doctors’ decision to carry out the very first five-day strike in NHS history reveals that morale and trust in Theresa May’s government is at rock bottom.
 “The Tories talk about a seven-day NHS, but they are causing five-day strikes.”
From p1: Green MEP Keith Taylor, who sits on the European Parliament’s public health committee, said: “It seemed inevitable that our junior doctors would announce further industrial action and it’s deeply saddening that they have been forced to this point by the intransigence of an incompetent Health Secretary.”
London-based paediatrician Dr Zeshan Qureshi said the strike was “the most difficult decision of my career.”
He told the Star: “However, as a paediatrician, I want to have the time and the resources to provide the best care to our children when they are sick.
“The NHS is at a crisis point whereby people are no longer willing to do the job under the conditions they face and there has been a complete loss of trust in our Health Secretary.”
Prime Minister Theresa May waded into the row to defend Mr Hunt, urging the BMA to stop “playing politics” and put patients first.
However BMA chairman Dr Mark Porter argued that the government’s determination to implement a party manifesto policy was “playing politics.”
He said: “We are not playing politics. We are not seeking to, for example, change a government, or criticise a partisan element of the House of Commons, or indeed to do anything at all other than express to the government the lack of confidence of junior doctors in the contract that they are imposing.
“I have to say it beggars belief that we can be accused of playing politics in this when the stated reason of the government proceeding is that it was in their party manifesto. That, to me, is playing politics.”
peterlazenby@peoples-press.com
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