Our fight is with the goverment not patients say junior doctors at Northwick Park Hospital as they are poised to strike
- Credit: Supplied by Dr Bhavagaya Baksh
Junior doctors serving Northwick Park Hospital say their fight is with the government not with patients as a national strike looks likely next week.
More than 100 junior doctors may join in on a 24-hour walk out next Tuesday at the hospital in Watford Road, which will be followed by a 48 hour strike on January 26 and a third in February after government talks broke down.
New contracts proposed by Jeremy Hunt, Minister for Health, towards a seven-day working week will force them to work longer hours with no extra pay.
The government has got conciliatory service ACAS to enter discussions with the BMA and the two sides will continue to negotiate.
In November three sets of strike action were called off at the last minute meaning patient operations remained cancelled.
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Bhavagaya Bakshi, GP registrar at Northwick Park Hospital, said: “Last time even though strike action was called off and all doctors went into work, regrettably patients were affected because appointments and scheduled appointments had already been cancelled.
“If at the last minute they do that again, it will be really unfortunate because our patients will be affected again. If they are going to do something we’d want it to be with enough time that trusts don’t have to cancel appointments and we can go back to work and provide the service we want to provide to our patients.”
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Under new contracts junior doctors will lose antisocial shift payments because 7pm to 10pm on weekdays, and 7am to 7pm on Saturdays, are being classed as “normal” hours.
Dr Bakshi said: “Fairness hasn’t been met, and key concerns regarding working hours, working conditions haven’t been met despite talks. It’s more likely that unless the government shifts its position that the strikes will happen.
“I really hope the government moves on this and really listens to what our concerns are. Doctors generally don’t strike and this is something all of us feel very uncomfortable about.
“None of us want to strike but unfortunately our fight is with the government. Patients seem to be at the receiving end of this which is definitely something we don’t want.”
Jeremy Hunt MP, Health Secretary, said: Our absolute priority is patient safety and making sure that the NHS delivers high-quality care seven days a week – and we know that’s what doctors want too, so it is extremely disappointing that the BMA have chosen to take industrial action which helps no-one.
“We had made good progress in talks, resolving 15 of the 16 issues put forward by the union – everything apart from weekend pay. We have now asked ACAS to reconvene talks in the hope the BMA will return to sensible negotiations.”