Junior doctors out on strike for a second time

10 Feb 16

Junior doctors in England are taking part in a second round of industrial action in an escalation of a dispute with ministers over new contract terms.

They will provide emergency care only for 24 hours from 8am today after talks intended to end the dispute collapsed earlier this month.

The long-running row relates to reforms being proposed by health secretary Jeremy Hunt, which he says are required to improve care at evenings and weekends. This would reclassify shifts at these times as plain time and not premium time.

However, the BMA maintains that doctors would be paid less for working unsocial hours than they are under the current contract, with those working in specialties with a high proportion of weekend and evening working, such as emergency medicine, affected disproportionately.

The doctors’ union is also concerned that financial penalties faced by NHS providers for overworking doctors would be removed in the new contract and replaced by an inspection regime led by the Care Quality Commission.

In a message to junior doctors ahead of this week’s industrial action, BMA junior doctors committee chair Johann Malawana said: ‘Last weekend, thousands of us took to the streets of London and Bristol to show that our fight for a properly negotiated contract continues.

“[Today], we raise our voices again, on hundreds of picket lines across England.’

In a comment issued ahead of the action, Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said it was extremely disappointing there will be industrial action.

“We have listened and worked hard to address the BMA’s concerns. We now need to see from the BMA the will to also compromise, with a focus on resolution – rather than strike action,” he said.

“Patients should not suffer over a dispute about pay. We will continue to want to talk with the BMA to agree a contract that is fair and safe for doctors and patients.”

However, Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said health secretary Jeremy Hunt had singlehandedly managed to publically alienate vital medical professionals.

“Everyone wants to see a better NHS, but it won’t be delivered by attacking the pay and working conditions of junior doctors,” he added.

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