Yorkshire junior doctor: ‘Dig in and continue the fight for a fair contract as next strike nears’

The Leeds junior doctor protest. Picture by Simon Hulme.

The Leeds junior doctor protest. Picture by Simon Hulme.

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Junior doctors are once again planning to take to the picket line to fight their corner in an ongoing contract dispute with the Government.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has said trainees will walk out over the Government’s “continued refusal to put reason before politics” in negotiations.

The strike will be a 24-hour period of reduced ‘emergency care only’ staffing on February 10 from 8am, rather than the planned nine-hour full walk-out.

Wednesday’s strike will follow a similar walk-out on January 12 and follows a BMA ballot that saw 98 per cent of juniors vote in favour of strike action.

The Government claims it is trying to create a “truly seven-day NHS” through changes it could impose on juniors by August. Its last offer includes an 11 per cent basic pay rise, which is offset by plans to cut the number of hours on a weekend for which juniors can claim extra pay for ‘unsocial’ hours.

The BMA argues that the proposed changes make the contract “unsafe and unfair” on both doctors and patients, as they could lead to doctors being overworked and those working unsocial hours face long-term pay cuts.

Ahead of the latest strike, which is likely to see thousands of non-urgent operations and appointments cancelled, junior doctor Phil Atkinson, who helped organise October’s Leeds protest in Victoria Gardens, has penned an open letter to colleagues.

We are at a fundamental tipping point.

If we give up now we will see plain time on weekends and evenings applied not only to ourselves but to our consultants, to our nursing colleagues and every NHS allied health care professional.

So I urge you all, dig in. Steel yourself for what is to come. On Wednesday be seen at the picket lines and then join us in worthwhile activities like teaching basic life support and helping with flood relief.

This isn’t over. This may not be over for a long time to come. Don’t let the Government’s patience be greater than ours. Don’t consign yourself, your colleagues and all the current health care students to lower pay for worse hours. Don’t let our patients suffer from the results of this contract.

Remember that passion that everyone felt three months ago in Victoria Gardens? Reclaim it and show that we will not go quietly into the night.

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