AN OPEN LETTER FROM THE JUNIOR DOCTORS ALLIANCE


THE Junior Doctors’ Alliance has issued a statement opposing Saturday’s announcement by the BMA leadership of the ‘suspension’ of its planned five-day strike actions against Tory Health Secretary Hunt’s new unsafe and unfair contract imposition. ‘As a group of committed junior doctors, we were deeply concerned and disappointed to learn of the BMA decision to “suspend” industrial action on the grounds of patient safety, which appears to contradict its previous position that the new contract is unsafe for patients. ‘We also find it surprising that the downgrading of a strike to fewer than five days was not chosen as alternative action. Although the BMA has said it will reveal alternative plans to oppose the contract over the next few days, we find it strange that our representative union has not seen fit to share these with its members. ‘We are also concerned that voting percentages on the strike action were not made available yesterday by the BMA, and call on them to make this information public, just as in every other democratic organisation. We reject claims made by the BMA that industrial action will compromise patient safety. ‘As in previous strikes, our hospital consultant colleagues would fill in for us, thus enabling patients to receive superior medical care. While we realise that any operation cancellations are an inconvenience to patients, this is not a new phenomenon. Only this week, the BBC cited some 71,370 last minute cancellations last year, “either on the day the patient was meant to arrive, after they had arrived, or on the day of the planned operation.” ‘This only proves what we already know – that the NHS is already in dire straits, and the contract proposed by Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt will only push an already crisis-hit service to breaking point. De facto, in the absence of further strike action, it would appear we are being forced to accept an unfair and unsafe contract, which the BMA has ostensibly fought against in the name of junior doctors, for the past year. ‘We at the JDA will continue to put pressure on the BMA to make meaningful progress towards a contract that is safe for both patients and doctors. We’re all in this together. We can make a difference.’ The BMA press release read: ‘The BMA has announced a suspension of further junior doctor industrial action in England. This follows feedback from doctors, patients and the public, and discussions with NHS England about the ability of the NHS to maintain a safe service if industrial action planned for October, November and December were to go ahead. Dr Ellen McCourt, said: ‘We still oppose the imposition of the contract and are now planning a range of other actions in order to resist it, but patient safety is doctors’ primary concern and so it is right that we listen and respond to concerns about the ability of the NHS to maintain a safe service.’

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