THOUSANDS of junior doctors joined more than 140 picket lines across England yesterday to protest against the imposition of a new contract.
Junior doctors took action for the fourth time over concerns the new contract is unfair for junior doctors and will be bad for the delivery of patient care in the long term. They were joined by MPs, celebrities, and members of the public who support their campaign, while the hard-work and support of other NHS staff ensured that many services continued to be delivered.
During the two days of industrial action this week, junior doctors also organised a number of blood drives and life-saving skills courses, and hosted a series of ‘Meet the Doctor’ events across England to talk with the public about the reasons behind this week’s action.
Dr Johann Malawana, BMA junior doctor committee chair, said: ‘No junior doctor wants to take this action but we have been left with no choice. The government is trying to impose a contract that is unfair and could undermine the long-term delivery of patient care.
‘The fact that junior doctors have again turned out in their thousands demonstrates the ongoing anger and rejection of this contract imposition. It is not only doctors who oppose the government’s plans; patient groups, senior managers and the government’s own safety adviser have all raised questions about the government’s approach.
‘The government has admitted that the new contract must enable employers to roster doctors for less money across seven-days, but junior doctors already work seven days a week, around the clock under the existing contract.
‘Devaluing the work we do is not the way to increase seven-day services. It will only serve to demotivate the current workforce and will risk doctors voting with their feet, which will impact patient care in the long term.
‘Junior doctors deeply regret any disruption caused to patients and don’t want to escalate action any further but by continually ignoring our concerns, the government is leaving us with no other option.’