THE war against junior doctors and their fight to defend the NHS has been ramped up by the Tory government acting through the General Medical Council (GMC).
Yesterday the GMC, the body responsible for registering and regulating doctors, came out with the blunt threat that any junior doctor taking strike action against the Tory plans to impose a new contract, and if lives were endangered, they could be struck off the medical register.
Claiming that the scale of the action, a five-day strike commencing next Monday with further strikes for the following months, represented a ‘substantial escalation’, the GMC warned that any doctor going on strike must take ‘reasonable steps’ to ensure that arrangements were in place to protect patients during the stoppage.
Failure to take reasonable steps, which the GMC does not identify, would mean that striking doctors are guilty of acting unprofessionally and would be liable to be struck off the medical register. They face being sacked and facing a lifetime ban from working in medicine unless they promise never to strike again and passively accept the diktats of the Tories.
In fact it is obvious that the job of the GMC is to protect the Tory government from a strike that has the overwhelming support of the working class. It is the Tories who through the most cynical and savage cuts in NHS funding are daily threatening the lives of patients.
It is the Tories, not junior doctors, who are daily forcing A&E and ward closures as they push hospitals into bankruptcy to soften up the NHS for the full privatisation that they are determined to impose.
Far from threatening the lives of patients, junior doctors are in the forefront of the fight to save the NHS from being driven out of existence as free at the point of need. The Tories are now desperately using the GMC as a weapon to crush resistance to their privatisation plans. This is in line with the whole Tory strategy of declaring all strikes illegal, the aim of the new anti-union legislation.
The same criteria of claiming that any strike, especially in the public sector, that in the opinion of the government poses a risk to the safety and wellbeing of the public is grounds for instant dismissal can be applied across the board.
As the FBU have recognised it would certainly apply to any firefighters’ strike, along with ambulance workers or indeed any worker in the NHS from porters through to nurses.
This latest attempt to intimidate junior doctors holds grave implications for the rights of every worker to defend the public services, along with their pay and conditions. It is a sign of the desperation of a weak, divided Tory government to impose austerity at the point of a gun.
It makes next week’s TUC annual conference the most crucial in its history. None of the motions on its published agenda even refer to its existing policy of considering calling a general strike to defend workers from the attacks of the Tories.
The most they do is call for demonstrations and rallies to protest against austerity and urge the Tories to ease up its attacks. The TUC conference must be inundated with emergency motions calling for the entire trade union movement to respond by calling a general strike in defence of the junior doctors, the NHS and the very right of workers to strike.
The only way to defeat the Tories is to demand that the TUC immediately act on its own policy, call the general strike, which will have the support of millions of workers and youth who are demanding a real fight, to kick out the Tories and go forward to a workers government.
Make Monday’s lobby of the TUC in Brighton a mass turn-out – show the strength of the working class that will not be intimidated by the Tories or their allies, and insist the TUC leaders call a general strike now – or resign and be replaced. See you at next Monday’s lobby – join the WRP and YS today.