THE BMA wrote to Tory health secretary Hunt yesterday with a clear offer: lift the imposition of the new contract and junior doctors will call off next week’s industrial action.
Hunt responded by slapping down the offer and insisting that the contract will still be imposed, leaving the junior doctors with no choice but to proceed with their full walk-out on Tuesday 26th and Wednesday 27th April.
The Young Socialists are calling on junior doctors, teachers and all workers, students and youth to join the lobby of the TUC on Wednesday 27 April at 8am to demand the TUC call a general strike in support of the junior doctors and to bring this government down.
Dr Johann Malawana, BMA junior doctor committee chair, said after sending the letter to Hunt: ‘This is a clear offer in a bid to avert industrial action. Simply put, if the government agrees to lift the imposition, junior doctors will call off next week’s action.
‘With preparations underway for the first full walk-out of doctors in this country, the government cannot continue to stick its head in the sand. It must now listen to the many voices raising concerns about its mishandled plans and do what it has refused to for far too long: put patients first, get back around the table and end this dispute through talks.’
Junior doctor Mohammed Latif, BMA member at Whipps Cross Hospital in east London, said: ‘It is important that we counter the government narrative with a show of solidarity. Jeremy Hunt is currently yo-yo-ing between “introducing” or “imposing” this contract, but at the end of the day the government’s aim is the same.
‘There are local meetings across the country where teachers, doctors and other workers are meeting to organise joint action in solidarity. The TUC have the power to bring all of these people into the fold and they should. The NHS belongs to all of us and without all of us coming together and standing up to the blind bulldozing of privatisation through this institution then we will not stop them.
‘If a general strike is what it will take, then that is what we must organise to save the NHS. And not only to save the NHS, but to show that the general public have had enough of this government and its destruction of all of the public services.’
The letter, dated 19 April 2016, stated: ‘Dear Secretary of State,
‘With a week to go to the start of the first full walkout of doctors in this country, I am writing to make a clear offer in a bid to avert industrial action. Simply put, if the government will lift the imposition, junior doctors will call off next week’s strike action on 26th and 27th April.
‘The imposition of this contract is tremendously damaging to the morale of junior doctors and medical students and has resulted in a complete breakdown of trust between doctors and the government. It is this decision which has led to the current, lamentable situation, the resolution to which is now squarely in your hands.
‘As you know, no junior doctor wants to have to take industrial action, but they have been left without further recourse. Junior doctors who I meet up and down the country are saying that they will not accept a contract being forced on them, a contract which the government’s own equality impact assessment acknowledges to be discriminatory to women.
‘I believe that your decision in February to give up on negotiations and impose a contract, reiterated in the House of Commons yesterday, marks a watershed in relations with the profession, but I am happy to meet or discuss this offer with you at any time between now and the start of next week’s industrial action.
‘I hope you will give this offer serious consideration and make the right decision for patients, doctors and the long-term future of the NHS.
‘Dr Johann Malawana
‘Chair, BMA junior doctors’ committee.’