JUNIOR doctors are set to renew their strike action in a ‘rolling programme of escalated industrial action beginning in early September’.
The new chair of the Junior Doctors Committee (JDC) of the British Medical Association (BMA), Ellen McCourt, issued a letter to members on Thursday night calling on them to get ready for action. Earlier this week she had warned that Health Secretary Hunt and the Tories were trying to ‘sit out’ the dispute until the imposition of the new ‘unfair and unsafe’ contract in October, but that the junior doctors have ‘found their role’, and are ‘prepared to defend the rest of the NHS’, adding ‘we haven’t finished yet’.
In Thursday’s letter, Dr McCourt stated: ‘Since becoming chair of JDC, I have been very clear with the Government about the issues which led junior doctors to reject the imposed contract.
‘I have continued to push for improvements which would demonstrate that the Secretary of State was serious when he stated in parliament that his door was always open. But when it comes to the issues which need to be resolved by the Government, we have simply seen nothing – not even a response to my letter of two weeks ago spelling out your concerns in no uncertain terms.
‘I have repeatedly told the Secretary of State what needs to be addressed and, crucially, by when. We have seen some last-minute movement from Health Education England on whistleblowing protections, and from NHS leaders with regard to the role of the Guardian of Safe Working, but the Government remains persistently silent.
‘In light of this, the JDC Executive has voted to reject the proposed new contract in full and to call for formal re-negotiations on all of your concerns.‘In response to the Government’s silence, JDC Exec has today made a formal request for a special meeting of BMA Council to authorise a rolling programme of escalated industrial action beginning in early September.
‘During several meetings with the Secretary of State, I have asked the Government to demonstrate a commitment and willingness to act on the priority shortfalls of the contract: had they done so, we might not have been forced into this position. We have been reasonable throughout, but cannot stand idly by as we move towards the Secretary of State’s arbitrary date of imposition.
‘Forcing a contract on junior doctors in which they don’t have confidence, that they don’t feel is good for their patients or themselves, is not something they can accept.
‘The road ahead will not be easy, but together we can demonstrate our commitment to securing a contract that is acceptable to junior doctors; by standing together we speak with one voice and demand the Government takes us seriously. Our unity remains our strength.