48hr junior doctors strike begins today

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Enthusiastic junior doctors on the picket line during strike action at North Middlesex Hospital in north London
Enthusiastic junior doctors on the picket line during strike action at North Middlesex Hospital in north London

JUNIOR doctors will walk out on their fourth strike at 8am this morning and form picket lines outside every hospital in the country, as the battle against the government’s imposition of an unsafe and unfair contract escalates.

Today’s strike is for 48 hours and the junior doctors will be out until 8am on Friday.

They then step-up their struggle with an all-out walk out without emergency cover on Wednesday April 27 from 8am until 5pm, and then again on Thursday April 28 from 8am until 5pm.

On April 27, to coincide with the next strike, the Young Socialists have called a lobby of the TUC at Congress House, Great Russell Street off Tottenham Court Road, in central London. The lobby demands that the TUC call a general strike to support the junior doctors and bring this government down.

The entire NHS is united in supporting the junior doctors’ struggle, and consultants and doctors produced a statement on the eve of today’s strike reiterating their support. Doctors for the NHS (DFNHS), which has campaigned against the privatisation of the NHS since the 1970s, said: ‘We are determined to support all doctors in training as they fight against the contract with renewed strike action for 48 hours on Wednesday and Thursday.

‘Members will be joining their colleagues on picket lines up and down the country – unless, of course, they are a consultant and so are choosing to support their juniors by working at their hospitals to cover for their colleagues as they defend themselves.’

Dr Eric Watts, a consultant haematologist and Chair of DFNHS, said: ‘Junior doctors are the specialists of tomorrow. It is in the interests of patient safety that they have decent working conditions, and dialogues with their employers. We support them in their work to achieve this.’

BMA member Mohammed Latif, a junior doctor at Whipps Cross Hospital, told News Line: ‘The government has just released their version of the imposed contract. By their own admission they admit that the contract is detrimental to women, in particular single mothers and women with families.

‘In this day and age it is unthinkable that we have such a contract that brings equality back to the 1940s and 50s era. It is impossible to justify it. The teachers said that they would like to take joint strike action with the junior doctors.

‘The impact of this concurrent government on public services is demonstrative – which is why the TUC must be actively involved. This is more than just a fight for the junior doctors contract it is a fight for the quality and efficiency of all public services.

‘If it takes everyone to come out on strike for the government to change its austerity plans then yes, the TUC should call a general strike. Some of our junior doctors from Whipps Cross Hospital will definitely be coming to the lobby of the TUC on April 27.’

Dr Ruhe Chowdhury, from the Oncology Department at Guy’s Hospital, told News Line: ‘The government have escalated this dispute to the point at which we no longer feel that our current form of action has resulted in the resolution of the situation as we would like.

‘Obviously, as junior doctors we do not wish to go on strike and the government can stop this at any point by agreeing to drop imposition and get back to negotiations. We are also incredibly disappointed by the equality impact assessment which has stated quite clearly that this contract will be detrimental to female doctors. Despite this the government does not wish to reverse its decision.

‘Junior doctors are fighting for a fair contract which we feel will be safe for patients and fair for those who work in the NHS. At the upcoming Royal College of Nursing (RCN) conference there is a motion to reject the 1% pay “offer” and go on strike.’