Doctors may strike again

Striking junior doctors on the picket line

Striking junior doctors on the picket line

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Junior doctors could return to the picket lines after being told new contracts of employment are to be imposed on them.

More strikes may be on the cards after Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt responded to a ballot rejecting the new terms by announcing medics will be forced to accept them.

“It’s possible,” said Dr David Wrigley a BMA spokesman in the county. “Junior doctors have to take stock now. They have the ability to call for more action.”

Mr Hunt chose Wednesday, the day when the Chilcot Report was being published, to announce the new contracts would be imposed, starting in October.

If it was an attempt to “bury bad news” when the media focus was elsewhere, it failed, with doctors reacting angrily to the decision and the chair of the BMA’s junior doctors’ committee resigning.

“Junior doctors said it (the contract) is not fit for purpose,” said Dr Wrigley. “The national committee are now taking stock and deciding what the next steps will be.

“Clearly this contract is not thought to be safe or fair for junior doctors and that is a huge concern. It is very sad that Mr Hunt has said he will impose it on the profession.

“It is incumbent on him to listen to junior doctors. But he is saying ‘I’m ignoring your wishes and I will force it on you.’ That is only going to lead to further loss of morale and more doctors moving abroad.”

Doctors rejected the new contracts by 21,459 (58 per cent) to 15,494 (42 per cent) in a ballot with a turnout of 68 per cent of the membership.

When the result was announced Dr Johann Malawana, who had fought hard to reach a compromise with the government over the contracts, resigned immediately as chair of the BMA junior doctors committee.

His successor Dr Ellen McCourt said:”It is extremely disappointing that the government is pushing ahead with the introduction of a contract that has been rejected by a majority of junior doctors.

“Good progress had been made in recent months and I believe agreeing a contract in which junior doctors have confidence is still the best way forward. The Government is simply storing up problems fore the future.”

Dr Wrigley, who works as a GP in Carnforth, added: “I don’t think Mr Hunt will get back round the table, I think he has made his position clear.

“I still think the public and the patients are very supportive of junior doctors. They are very worried about the NHS, the huge cuts by the Government and how they are affecting A&E and GP waiting times.

“So to attack junior doctors at this time is not the right thing to do.”