Thousands to march in Leeds medics’ protest

More than 1,700 Yorkshire doctors and medical students will protest against proposed changes to the contracts of junior doctors next week.

Harry Leslie Smith will speak to demonstrators.

The number of medics planning to demonstrate has more than doubled in a matter of weeks, with crowds expected to swell at the event in Victoria Gardens, Leeds, on Wednesday, October 28, from 7pm.

Harry Leslie Smith, the NHS campaigner whose speech went viral last year, and the British Medical Association’s (BMA) Junior Doctor Committee chair Dr Johann Malawana will be among the speakers.

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It follows similar protests in London and Manchester over controversial plans to change the contracts of junior doctors, which medics claim could cut pay by up to 30 per cent, remove safeguards to prevent them working excessive hours and redefine unsociable hours.

A breakdown in talks between the BMA and Government over the issue has sparked the threat of an unprecedented strike.

Organiser Dr Phil Atkinson, a junior doctor from Bramhope, said: “The interest expressed by junior doctors across the region has been incredible, when you think about it that makes a lot of sense given what is going on and the threat that this is to patient safety and the future of the NHS.”

Junior doctors and students from all over the county have formed a committee supporting the demo amid fears the changes could force medical talent abroad and lead to costly mistakes from overworked doctors.

The changes could be enforced from August 2016.

Earlier this month a letter from Jeremy Hunt to the BMA attempted to reassure medics that the changes were not a cost cutting exercise and were aimed at providing a seven-day NHS but Dr Malawana responded by saying they still need “concrete assurances” over pay and safeguards.

A crowdfunding site to pay for a PA system and refreshments has been set up, with any funds left over to be donated to the Leeds Medics’ Charities. Visit http://goo.gl/Z12yYN.