Why the Government can’t cry poverty over junior doctor pay - Yorkshire Post Letters

From: Les Howell, Hull.

Having worked most of my working life in the NHS at most levels from the bedside to the then Department of Health, I have always had a total commitment to the NHS concept of treatment and care provided free at the point of need.

It was always inconceivable in my generation that we should ever consider going on strike and compromising the care of our patients. Of course, we never thought of using the ‘reason’ that we were undertaking such action was to have a living wage and ‘to save the NHS’. How simplistic we were.

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I read with interest a Daily Telegraph analysis apparently indicating a record excess of deaths occurring during NHS strikes i.e. 53,000, which is the highest figure recorded in a non-pandemic year since 1940.

Junior doctors and members of the British Medical Association (BMA) on the picket line. PIC: Ben Birchall/PA WireJunior doctors and members of the British Medical Association (BMA) on the picket line. PIC: Ben Birchall/PA Wire
Junior doctors and members of the British Medical Association (BMA) on the picket line. PIC: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Whilst this battle continues with the present government stating that they cannot afford the increase being demanded and the junior doctors insisting that they save the NHS, a higher political battle is also taking place.

The ‘Right’ is insisting that because the junior doctors (an absurd and out of date term to use) are the last NHS Group standing up to the present Tory government their real motivation is to bring down the current government to replace it with a Labour government.

This is despite the widely held view that the present government needs no help whatsoever in achieving this aim.

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The argument currently being discussed across the spectrum of political opinion is that the current state of the NHS and financial demands being made (significantly lower in

comparison with other ‘senior’ European Countries) demonstrates why we cannot afford the NHS.

In the meantime, countless millions go into privatised profits of the many organisations discretely commissioned by governments of all colours which of course is never mentioned.

I also read a second article in the Telegraph also on the same date of a government investigation taking place which was stopped during the Covid crisis. The investigation concerned the loss of circa £1bn incorrectly paid to General Practitioners for “six million more patients registered to GP Practices in England last year than the total population size of the country.”

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I would like to suggest that rather than cry poverty, the present Government informs the current NHS strikers that it is re-establishing the above investigation and committing all the necessary savings from this exercise to reinstating the pay that the so-called junior doctors have lost over the years within an agreed time scale.

The Government then has significant funding available to resolve the problem. The General Practitioners will be assisting their junior doctor colleagues in their aims of restoring their previous pay parities and also saving the NHS; and the public will once again begin receiving a service they are continuing to pay for and at no extra cost.

A win-win situation if ever there was one.

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