Junior Hospitals Dispute

By Joseph Adams, Supporter of RED LIBERATION (Bulletin of Socialists active in the Labour Party), 20.1.2015

The Junior Hospitals dispute has led to a strike which was held on 12th January. The Cameron Government is trying to force new contracts onto Junior Doctors who now work excessive hours. After Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, refused to meet representatives of the BRITISH MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (BMA), the trade union representing the majority of Junior Doctors, the BMA said in a statement:

Tens of thousands of junior doctors are today taking industrial action over their contract dispute with the Government. Trainees in England are providing emergency care-only cover — similar to a Christmas Day service — in the first of three planned periods of industrial action. Doctors are taking the action over the Government’s failure to address junior doctor’s leaders’ concerns about contractual safeguards on safe working, and proper recognition for those working unsocial hours. Conciliation talks paused last week with both sides saying, while discussions had been ‘constructive’, they were not enough to call off today’s planned action by the BMA. BMA junior doctors committee chair Johann Malawana said: ‘junior doctors feel they have been left with no option but to take this action. ‘We have been clear throughout this process that we want to negotiate a contract that is safe and fair, and delivers for junior doctors, patients and the NHS as whole.” [1]

I went along to the picket line and interviewed a number of Junior Doctors on the picket line at KETTERING GENERAL HOSPITAL IN NORTHAMPTONSHIRE. They were very lively and enthusiastic. Many cars hooted their support as they went past the hospital. The pickets also received support from the many pedestrians walking past or going into the hospital.

Chris, the BMA representative at the Hospital, told me: “the government is intent on imposing a contract, unfair to Doctors where many of them are working 100 hours a week, there are no safeguards. Tired doctors make mistakes”.

Mehar, another Junior doctor and Registar, said: “Junior doctors have been supporting the NHS for many years. The government is just messing around with the contracts”.

Suresh, another Junior Doctor on the picket line, told me: “There is support across from senior and junior consultants. There is a valid reason about reasonable working and this shows how the government is steamrolling (the new contracts) without consultation. You can see the effects unsafe practices and unsafe hours. This is not satisfactory. A lot of staff are sick with sickness and stress because of this government’s policy”.

Vivek, a medical student, was also on the picket line. He told me “I am here to show support and solidarity for Junior Doctors. I will start working in August. The campaign is bang on we must stop unfair and unsafe practices”.

We in RED LIBERATION support the struggle of the Junior Doctors. We say:

* Solidarity with the Struggle of the Junior Doctors!

* For full trade union support for the Junior Doctors! Other sectors of the workers movement should support the Junior Doctors too!

* All decisions about the struggle must not be made by some trade union bureaucrats but at mass assemblies of the Junior Doctors!


(1) www.bma.org.uk/news-views-analysis/news/20thnovember/juniors-contract-industrial-action-dates-set

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