19 Jan 2016

Hunt sidelined as second junior doctors’ strike called off

So the next 48-hour strike, which had been due to start on Tuesday, has been called off while talks between the British Medical Association and NHS Employers/Government continue.

A cause for optimism? Perhaps. Since Sir David Dalton, chief executive of the Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, was brought into the talks and a committee of advisers was set up, there does appear to have been some movement.

My sources tell me that apart from the two major sticking points – the Saturday hours and a safety mechanism to stop trusts overworking juniors – one of the biggest issues is the psychological damage done.

Junior doctors (and this was someone from the employers’ side saying this) are angry, dismayed, hurt, over the accusations levelled at them throughout this process – accusations that they are, for instance, putting patients’ lives at risk, that they are standing in the way of a seven-day NHS.

There is also anger at the way statistics have been used to make a point about weekends – more people dying, more people dying of strokes, both of which have been strenuously disputed.

To this end, it has been felt wise to take this out of the hands of Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary (as much as you can given that he is the Health Secretary) because that relationship has well and truly broken down.

There is now an advisory group made up of chief executives, medical directors and workforce directors helping Sir David.

On the Government side there is frustration because a seven-days-a-week NHS is, after all, a manifesto pledge and one that appeared popular with the public. Their statement today says that the Government and Junior doctors want to do the same thing by improving patient care at weekends.

ACAS talks were not due to begin again until Thursday but behind the scenes the negotiating has never really stopped as today’s announcement reveals.

There does, however, remain the threat of the all-out strike on February 10 from 8am to 5pm, although, again, there is some speculation that the BMA may reinstate emergency cover.

Tweets by @vsmacdonald

10 reader comments

  1. anon says:

    the right move by the BMA

  2. Min Clifford says:

    I am sure Channel 4 news will give good coverage of this new development. Minamonfilm has worked closely with the NHS and are very aware that there is already a 7 day a week cover and that our “Health Minister” has distorted, re written and quite frankly lied. He has bullied and abused our young life blood of staff and one can only think he has shares in some form of private health care companies like so many of other Tory MPs. I trust you will give a fair account!

  3. Alison says:

    Compliments to Victoria Macdonald. You were the only TV reporter who reported the Modernising Medical Careers debacle accurately. You appear to be just as on top of your brief this time. Thanks!!!

  4. Richard Gray says:

    What is Jeremy Hunt for? What is his purpose? He clearly can’t do any job he’s given. So why is he still there?

  5. Anupam Gupta says:

    The government has single handedly failed to grasp the point that the infrastructure to implement 7-day working is simply not there. There are number of specialties out there (most of them acute services) which as on today suffer from shortage of qualified staff so how would they implement something which requires thousands of doctors to fulfil. Did they not hear about running before walking?
    On the other hand by the current approach, they are alienating a generation of doctors, consequences of which would be picked by future governments.

  6. Alan says:

    Every government since 1948 has publicly supported the NHS yet reduced it’s ‘real term’ budget. Government pledges are at best ambiguous, as that of union management, supporting it’s membership whilst appeasing those who control them. The BMA is well aware of how this will play out. The current system is wholly incapable of delivering any other, than less pay, longer working hours and usury of workers integrity.

  7. Anthony Kilcoyne says:

    Junior Doctors are in the right, morally and ethically, to stand up against an experimental and imposed Contract that puts patients at risk!!!

    A similar error was done to nhs dental contract imposed in 2006 upon dentists and frankly even 10 years later, vulnerable children and adults are suffering increasingly and Charities are having to try and compensate for such poor planning and policy centrally :(

    DO NOT let this catastrophe happen in Medicine too!

    Yours deeply concerned,

    Tony Kilcoyne.

    Ref: http://www.bmj.com/content/352/bmj.i203/rapid-responses

  8. DrJ says:

    Unfortunately there has been so much damage already done by the governments smear campaign. I already quit and took a job in scientific research abroad, and there are many of my colleagues who have done/doing/planning/fantasising to do similar. In addition medical school applications took their first hit (down ten percent) in many years. This is a sad blow to a group of people who, on the whole, really DO care about people and don’t care (too much) about money. No one asked for more money; we just didn’t want our existing conditions and pay cut. Those who think doctors were being “greedy” are sadly misinformed of the Facts.

  9. Gary D. says:

    I would have sympathy for these so-called “doctors” if any of them were ever held to account for any mistakes, but they always hide behind excuses. In practical terms it is almost impossible for anybody within the NHS to be fired. Typically, bad “doctors”, as with bad “teachers” are simply moved elsewhere. Professional? Definitely not. As for a 7-day-week job, well this is not new information. Everybody entering medicine knows this. If you don’t want such working hours, then choose a different trade.

  10. Andrew Dundas says:

    My GP said I needed to attend hospital over a weekend. Services were excellent. It turned out to have been a false alarm. But I’m pleased that staff did their jobs v well.

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