Mass Pickets Of Striking Junior Doctors Today!

Junior doctors on the picket line at St Thomas’ Hospital earlier this year

MASS PICKETS of striking junior doctors take place today from 8am-11am outside St Thomas’ Hospital opposite Parliament in central London, Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham and Manchester Royal Infirmary.

Thousands of BMA junior doctors in England are in the midst of a five-day strike which began at 7am last Friday, 24th February and concludes this Wednesday at 11.59pm, 28th February in their year-long fight for pay restoration following a massive 35% pay cut under the Tories.

There is renewed fury among the striking doctors as it has emerged over the weekend that the Tories are reneging on their pledge to expand medical school places.

Referring to a letter to medical school and university heads which indicates the government is reversing its medical school places expansion, Professor Phil Banfield, chair of BMA council, said yesterday: ‘It is abundantly clear that we have a government who refuses to fund the training for the doctors of tomorrow and who also refuse to pay fairly the ones we have today; this is no way to solve the ever increasing workforce crisis the NHS is facing.

‘The government’s long term workforce plan gave a commitment to double medical school places to 15,000 per year by 2031/32, something the BMA has been campaigning on for several years.

‘However, the plan lacked an implementation strategy beyond the immediate first steps and the existing teaching facilities and staffing infrastructure cannot support such an expansion as it currently stands.

‘This letter shows that those plans, as weak as they may have been, were in fact just hollow words from this government, and we’re not really surprised by this at all.

‘Not only are they now reneging on their commitment to the expansion, as this letter makes clear, there will also be no new capital funding for medical schools who do want to accept even a handful more students.

‘With this revelation coming in the same week as the government tries to force through potentially dangerous legislation in the House of Lords which makes it far harder for patients to tell the difference between doctors and those without a medical degree, it’s hard to see how this government intends to keep doctors in this country.

‘There is currently a huge medical workforce crisis – around 10,000 doctor vacancies in England alone.

‘It is time for the government to stop the dithering and offer credible pay offers that begin to restore and recognise the value of doctors’ unique skills and expertise – or go down in history as the government that let the NHS fail, when it had the means in its power to avoid it.’

Meanwhile, with recent polling by Savanta showing public support continues to be strong for the junior doctor industrial action, with the majority of people (53%) backing the strikes, almost double the 28% who said they are opposed, Professor Phil Banfield, BMA council chair, said: ‘This survey shows that junior doctors continue to be supported by the public – their patients in many cases – who quite clearly see how unjust it is for junior doctors to have had their pay fall in real-terms year on year, while their workload spirals upwards.

‘Crucially almost half of those asked – the largest proportion by a long way – blame the UK government for this dispute going on for this long, and they would be right.’