The BMA has called three 48-hour strikes over the next two months against government plans to impose a new contract on junior doctors from August 2016.
The strikes will take place on 9-11 March, 6-8 April and 26-28 April. The new contract would mean a substantial pay cut for many junior doctors, changes to working patterns by introducting non-resident on-calls and increases in the hours designated “plain time” (rather than unsociable hours, and thus paid at a reduced rate). The contract and its imposition has been widely condemned by junior doctors and the wider medical profession.
In a letter to junior doctors, the Chair of the Junior Doctors’ Committee, Johann Malwanna, hightlighted the BMA’s argument that, in pursuit of the a “7-day service” agenda, the government is attempting to impose a contract which asks doctors to do more for less. While everyone is in favour of increasing services within the NHS, the Tory austerity agenda stops these changes from being funded.
The imposed junior doctor contract will not help provide the services, as junior doctors already provide 24-hour 7-day a week cover, and the government is not proposing to train any more doctors. The government and NHS employers came in for more scorn when new model rotas were supplied to junior doctors. These showed no more doctors working at the weekend than previously, some doctors working single night shifts then immediately returning to day shifts, and doctors working consecutive weekends. This last change was something junior doctors were told would not happen by the Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State.
The labour movement must stand up and support junior doctors in the fortcoming action, as they fight for decent and fair terms and conditions. We must oppose imposition of contracts upon any worker; it is clear that if this government feels it can impose contracts, it will not stop with junior doctors. We must not allow the government’s political desires to destroy a key workforce within our NHS.