Junior doctors at Northwick Park Hospital defend strike action
- Credit: Archant
Junior doctors at Northwick Park Hospital will not rule out another strike on day two of their historic first “all out” industrial action.
The doctors have held their picket at the hospital in Watford Road, Sudbury, since yesterday having withdrawn all labour, including no provision of emergency care – a NHS first.
Dr David Antcliffe, a senior registrar at the hospital, said: “There’s a good turnout and we’re getting a lot of support from passing traffic and pedestrians. We feel that the public is behind us.”
The strike follows four walk-outs where emergency care by the junior doctors was previously maintained.
The British Medical Association claims new contracts imposed by the government will leave junior doctors subjected to pay cuts and changes to out of hours work.
Jeremy Hunt, Health Secretary, said: “The new contract offers junior doctors who work frequently at weekends more Saturday premium than nurses, paramedics, that the assistants who work in their own operating theatres, more that police officers and firefighters and nearly every other work in the public and private sectors.”
However Dr Antcliffe hit back: “It’s a much more complicated issue than Jeremy Hunt would like it to seem. Nurses and doctors are paid in a different way.
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“We’re not asking to be paid more, we’re just asking that our working conditions aren’t changed to the detriment of the patients and the doctors. We don’t want the contracts imposed and want Saturdays to remain as an out of hours day.”
He added: “If they push through this contract changing Saturday to a normal working day for junior doctors, the next thing they’ll do is make Saturdays count as a normal day for nurses, occupational therapists, and that will be a huge cut to their salary.
I think that’s what their long game is going to be. Once you got the junior doctors all under one union, it’s much easier to go after the nurses.”
Dr Antcliffe, is a junior doctor who is months away from becoming a consultant.
He said they were fighting against the “imposition of contracts despite what we all feel about them.”
He said: “Almost all junior doctors move and change contracts in August so an implementation and an imposition are all but the same thing. There are few other professions where they wouldn’t allow a contract imposed on them with significant changes in their working pattern.
“Some people might not take up the contract which will put hospitals in very difficult positions, a significant proportion are talking about leaving the country or leaving the profession. The impact on staff and morale will be huge.”
Further strikes are earmarked for June but he said dates and details had not been decided.
“Our goal is to get some kind of resolution before then,” he said.