Defiant junior doctors have been readying their picket signs ahead of their second major strike today.
Thousands of juniors across Yorkshire are expected to walk out as part of a 24-hour period of reduced ‘emergency care only’ staffing from 8am that will involve pickets outside every major hospital in the region.
It comes after a breakdown in talks between doctors’ union the British Medical Association (BMA) and the Government over a proposed new contract, which the union put down to Government’s “continued refusal to put reason before politics”.
Last-ditch talks yesterday failed to bring about an agreement amid NHS England fears that today’s action will result in the cancellation of almost 3,000 non-urgent appointments and operations.
The main area of dispute is the Government’s plan to classify Saturday working as being within normal hours, which the BMA fears will drive doctors out of the NHS and damage patient safety. Currently juniors are paid more for ‘unsocial’ evening and weekend hours.
Dr Lucie Cocker, BMA representative at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals, explained that trainees will help with flood relief in Leeds and host lifesaving skills and Meet the Doctor sessions regionally during the day of action.
She said: “We want to show on the picket line that we are not going to back down.”
Yorkshire hospitals have been planning for today’s walk-out for weeks, prompting the likes of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust to send out letters to the hundreds of patients.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt yesterday refused to deny reports that he personally vetoed a “cost neutral proposal” put forward by the BMA that would end the junior doctor dispute earlier this week.
Prime Minister David Cameron’s official spokeswoman said: “We have been clear throughout that we want to work with the BMA to find a solution on this. We continue to urge them to return to the negotiating table.
“The NHS has tried and tested contingency plans. These are being put in place, but the reality is that we are seeing an effect on patients already.”
Junior doctor strike pickets and events
Pickets at Leeds St James’s Hospital and Leeds General Infirmary from 8am to 12noon.
Meet the Doctors engagement sessions around Oxford Place from 9am to 5pm.
Afternoon drop-in sessions run by paediatric doctors telling parents how to stop their child choking at the Oxford Place Centre.
Bone marrow donation stall at Oxford Place Centre by Leeds Marrow.
Leeds flood relief support in the afternoon.
Pickets at the Northern General Hospital,Royal Hallamshire Hospital and Sheffield Children’s Hospital from 8am.
A picket support demonstration at Weston Park main gates from 1pm to 3pm.
Meet the Doctors engagement sessions meet from 9.30am.
Lifesaving skills for parents sessions run by paediatric doctors at St Mark’s Church, Broomhill, and Sam Fox House.
Pickets at York Hospital from 8am to 12.30pm.
Pickets outside Bradford Royal Infirmary from 8am.
Meet the Doctors engagement sessions in Bradford city centre from 9am to 5pm.
Pickets outside Pinderfields Hospital from 8am to 1pm.
Pickets outside Airedale General Hospital from 7.30am.
Meet the Doctors engagement sessions outside the Airedale Centre in Keighley.
Pickets outside Harrogate District Hospital from 8am.
Meet the Doctors engagement sessions around Harrogate war memorial from 10am.
Pickets outside Hull Royal Infirmary from 8am.
Meet the Doctors engagement sessions around St Stephen’s shopping centre from 10.30am.