February 12, 2016   |   Michaela Whitton
February 12, 2016
(ANTIMEDIA) United Kingdom — Junior doctors in the U.K. work around the clock, seven days a week under their existing contracts. In spite of this, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has decided to plough ahead and impose new terms of employment with a bullying declaration that has dominated the British media all week.
The controversial announcement came after more than 160 picket lines were set up around England with thousands taking industrial action over the proposed contract. Instead of working with the British Medical Association (BMA) to reach an agreement in the best interests of patients, junior doctors, and the NHS, Hunt announced that he will push through the new contract. The new terms will re-define anti-social hours and make it cheaper for hospitals to roster doctors on weekends and evenings.
Last October, 20,000 people marched through London to protest the proposed changes, which the Government insists will improve patient care at weekends and in the evenings. Ongoing protests and strikes have been met with overwhelming public solidarity from NHS staff, patients, and the British public, as they cling with white knuckles to what remains of their beloved NHS.
Mr. Hunt’s contempt for health professionals was displayed in his parliamentary announcement on Thursday:
“Along with other senior NHS leaders and supported by NHS Employers, NHS England, NHS Improvement, the NHS Confederation and NHS Providers, [chief negotiator Sir David Dalton] has asked me to end the uncertainty for the service by proceeding with the introduction of a new contract that he and his colleagues consider safer for patients and fair and reasonable for junior doctors. I have therefore today decided to do that.”
The BMA’s junior doctor committee chair, Dr. Johann Malawana, described the decision as a “sign of total failure on the Government’s part,” while Shadow Health Secretary Heidi Alexander called the move “the biggest gamble with patient safety this House has ever seen.”
Dr. Malawana said: “Instead of working with the BMA to reach an agreement that is in the best interests of patients, junior doctors and the NHS as a whole, the Government has walked away, rejecting a fair and affordable offer put forward by the BMA.”
Accusing the government of wanting to impose a flawed contract on a generation of junior doctors who have lost all trust in the health secretary, Dr. Malawana added:
“If the Government want more seven-day services then, quite simply, it needs more doctors, nurses and diagnostic staff, and the extra investment needed to deliver it.
“Rather than addressing these issues, the health secretary is ploughing ahead with proposals that are fundamentally unfair.”
Dr. Malawana continued:
“The Government’s shambolic handling of this process from start to finish has totally alienated a generation of junior doctors – the hospital doctors and GPs of the future, and there is a real risk that some will vote with their feet.”
Anyone would think the U.K. Health Secretary was not only trying to demoralise and alienate an entire generation, but create a disaster so vast that full privatisation of health services appears the only solution.
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