Hospital Dr News

Strike still on despite TV resignations, pleas from presidents and MPs’ pilot plans

This week’s junior doctor strike is set to go ahead despite eleventh hour attempts by the BMA and royal colleges to get the government back to the negotiating table.

One junior doctor even went so far as to resign on live television in protest at the soon-to-be imposed contract.

A full strike is planned for 26 and 27 April from 08:00 to 17:00, when junior doctors will walkout and not cover emergency care.

Dr Ben White, a gastroenterology trainee at Newham General Hospital in East London, resigned while being interviewed by Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid on Good Morning Britain.

Dr White is part of the legal campaign launched by Justice for Health contesting whether the Health Secretary undertook a proper consultation prior to deciding to impose the contract.

Presidents of the royal colleges have also made a final bid to persuade the Prime Minister to intervene.

A letter to David Cameron says: “In our view, as leaders of the medical profession, the ongoing impasse in the dispute between Government and junior doctors poses a significant threat to our whole healthcare system by demoralising a group of staff on whom the future of the NHS depends.”

It’s signed by Professor Neena Modi, President, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health; Professor Jane Dacre, President, Royal College of Physicians London; and Professor Maureen Baker, Chair, Royal College of General Practitioners, among 10 others.

Some 112,856 outpatient appointments and 12,711 planned operations are set to be delayed due to the action, NHS England says.

Over the weekend, a cross-party plan by MPs was put forward for the new NHS contract to be piloted first.

The letter was organised by Labour’s shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander and was signed by Conservative Dr Dan Poulter, Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb and the SNP’s Dr Philippa Whitford.

The letter said: “If it remains your intention to introduce this new contract, we believe it should be piloted in a number of trusts/across a number of deaneries and for its impact on patients, staff and the ‘weekend effect’ to be independently evaluated.”

But Jeremy Hunt rejected the plan warning that “further delay” in introducing the contract “just means we will take longer to eliminate the weekend effect”.

Hunt put forward a counter-proposal to the BMA in a letter to the organisation’s chairman Mark Porter.

In it he said he was prepared to meet the BMA to discuss “workforce and funding requirements for seven-day services” as well as other issues outside the contract that have been of concern to junior doctors.

These include improvements in training, improving work-life balance and the burden of examination and training fees.

However, Mr Porter replied on Sunday, writing that a negotiated settlement “cannot take place with the threat of imposition hanging over our junior doctors’ heads”.

“If you agree to lift imposition while talks resume, we will immediately call off the industrial action”, he wrote in a letter.

The Government said it had 75 meetings with the BMA and three years of talks, and delaying reform further would mean not taking an important step in improving weekend care.

Hunt said of the strike: “The extreme action planned will be deeply worrying for patients, and place enormous additional strain on our NHS at a time of intense pressure.

“I therefore appeal to you one final time to call off strike action that will see doctors withdraw potentially life-saving care, and to meet with me on Monday to discuss a better way forward

Dr Ben White’s comments on Good Morning Britain: 

“I’ve taken the decision, well I will do so today, to resign as a training doctor to focus on a legal campaign, legal proceedings to fight the contract, to fight on behalf of patients and fight for the future of the NHS.

“And I feel that I’ve got an obligation to do that on behalf of my patients

“I really feel like we have been backed into a corner and there’s not a lot of sense coming out from the Government’s side of things at the moment.

“We all feel like it’s been a long six months.

“We have to put patients first and we can see at the moment the understaffing and the underfunding that’s taking place in the NHS – an A&E had to call in the military recently to staff it, in my hospital we had more admissions in 24 hours than we’ve ever had before.

“This isn’t being listened to – we have to look to the future, I think.”

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