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Monday 26th
posted by Morning Star in Britain

BMA call off strikes but vow to continue fight against contracts

by Peter Lazenby
STRIKES by hospital doctors have been suspended — but they vowed yesterday to continue resisting government enforcement of new contracts which they say will endanger patients.
Despite widespread opposition including six strikes, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is pressing on with his plan to impose new contracts involving extended weekend working on an already over-stretched workforce — with no extra funding or staffing.
A wave of five-day strikes were planned to take place in October, November and December.
The doctors’ union, the British Medical Association (BMA), has suspended the strikes in the interests of patient safety. But it says resistance to the contracts will continue and new forms of action are being examined.
BMA junior doctors committee chairman Dr Ellen McCourt said the decision to suspend strike action had been taken “in light of feedback from doctors, patients and the public, and following a passionate, thoughtful and wide-ranging debate amongst junior doctors.”
She said: “Our fight does not end here. We still oppose the imposition of the contract and are now planning a range of other actions in order to resist it.
“But patient safety is doctors’ primary concern and so it is right that we listen and respond to concerns about the ability of the NHS to maintain a safe service.
“We hope the government will seize this opportunity to engage with junior doctors and listen to the range of voices from across the NHS raising concerns about doctors’ working lives and the impact of the contract on patient care.”
Ms McCourt said the dispute hinged on how the NHS will assure quality care over seven days.
She said there is a need for “an open and honest debate led by the BMA” and hoped that all interested parties — including medical and healthcare professionals, the government and patient groups — would work with junior doctors to try to make it happen.
The six strikes this year won widespread public support for the doctors, who are the mainstay of the provision of NHS hospital treatment.
Mr Hunt plans to impose the new contracts from next month.