12 Jan 2016

Junior doctors’ strike explained

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There was a moment, just before Christmas, where it did look as if the junior doctors contract dispute would be resolved.

With both sides at the ACAS table for the first time, there was real hope they could work their way to some form of compromise.

But it was not to be.  They did not appear to come close to resolving those remaining sticking points over pay, over safeguards to stop juniors being made to work excessive hours and over incremental pay rises.

The Government has said over the past week that they are disappointed especially because they had resolved 15 of 16 points. The British Medical Association said – again a reflection of how far apart they are – that they do not recognise those numbers and that there is more to resolve than one point.

Again, too, they disagree over claims that doctors will receive an 11 per cent pay rise under the contract.

The BMA says those who work the longest hours will be disproportionately affected because of the proposal to change the basic hours from 7am-10pm Monday to Friday and 7am-7pm on Saturdays.

The Government says only 1 per cent will lose out but they have never provided figures to show how they have reached that figure.

So today the juniors go on strike for the first time since 1975. There are expected to be about 100 picket lines at hospitals across England.  About 4,000 operations have been cancelled.

It is fair to say that the NHS is well-rehearsed in coping under these sort of circumstances and major upheavals aren’t expected.

Interestingly, for both sides to consider, is some polling out today in the Health Service Journal.

The Ipsos/Mori poll for the HSJ  found that as long as their strike is confined to planned care 66 per cent of the public support the junior doctors’ action. Sixteen per cent said they opposed action even with emergency care being provided, with the remainder saying they neither supported nor opposed.

But this support dropped to 44 per cent of the public if emergency care was affected which will be the case on February 10.

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9 reader comments

  1. Alan says:

    The article explains little other than required for a junior classroom. Yet another poorly written opinion whose basis is to remain liked by those who fund it.

  2. james hamilton says:

    “The Government says only 1 per cent will lose out but they have never provided figures to show how they have reached that figure”. This is the nub of the money side of the problem. If you look at the comments on the Channel 4 FactCheck website (not the article itself..) you will see the truth. The trick is in how “pay protection works”. A large proportion of JDs will need their “pay protection” to avoid a cut. But they would have got significant annual rises under the current contract. So a large number (majority?) of the 99% are going to get a de facto cut.

    Pay protection applies to the individual not the job – so the job is paid less going forward. So thats cuts down the line. For example a lot of first year graduates will we about 11% worse off when they go into Foundation Year 1.

    Most of Jeremy Hunts statements are half truths – lies in effect.

  3. Sharad says:

    What’s your vote?
    Do you agree that the UK Government is trying to impose a contract that is unfair for doctors and, potentially unsafe for patients?
    #yanoit_polls #juniordoctorsstrike

  4. Dr Elsayed Omar Selim says:

    Who can blame junior doctors. Their strike is based on facts and real problems that are near to abuse. More hours is very dangerous because this where life threatening mistakes may happen. Coupling that with lower pay is incredible and shows that the department of health is taking junior doctors for granted.
    Those young men and women saved my life and I owe it to them to stand with them shoulder to shoulder in their legitimate demands to be treated in a humane manner.

  5. Claire says:

    My daughter had to stay in hospital over Easter weekend when she did not need to be there because there was no doctors/consultants around to sign her out!!!

  6. Rod smith says:

    This doctor on channel 4 is talking rubbish. My mother after being admitted at 5pm on a Friday in November 2015 was first scene by a doctor at 11.30. She was them miss diagnosed even after the local GP correctly diagnosed at 1.30pm while he waited with my mother for the ambulance, but the junior doctors ignored his notes on admittance. There were just 2 junior doctors on this very busy ward. This situation continued until Monday morning when you could not move for doctors all feeling refreshed and a chatting about their weekend adventures as my mother laid in the process of end of life.I suggest junior doctors think very hard as I am sure that once social media starts in Ernest they will find the support is very mixed. My mother died 7days after being ignored.

  7. si bur says:

    I find it amazingly arrogant of Doctors to think they should automatically get yearly increments to their salary. In any other line of work, salary increases are earned through performance and may include yearly inflation rises as a matter of course. If you don’t like it, get another job – it’s no different for anyone else. Also, on unsocial hours I think the reward system being proposed is not harsh – certainly bearing in mind many ordinary working people don’t get any additional pay. oh yeah, and their in line for getting an 11% basic increase – where else would that happen? If its hours they’re complaining about then I support them but sorry on the question of pay I can’t agree.

  8. Andrew Dundas says:

    I’m sure I’m not alone in assuming the description ‘junior doctors’ is misleading. As I understand the matter, the term encompasses all doctors who’re not consultants.
    I’m also sceptical of the claim that patients admitted at weekends are more likely to die than those admitted on ordinary week-days. Surely, patients admitted at weekends are much more likely to be admitted because of some pressing health problem rather than on an elective basis? Wouldn’t such emergency admissions suggest that their urgent need was itself more likely to be life-threatening?
    Does anyone know the answers to these questions? Could it be that Jeremy Hunt hasn’t asked?

  9. anon says:

    (if) those making decisions about public services such as the NHS were to be personally affected by the consequences of their decisions, things would be a lot different, If Ministers or civil servants choosing to underfund the NHS, pushing doctors to take strike action to protect themselves as well as their patients, knew for certain that that these decisions would also impact on them personally at some point , I am sure they would be acting differently.

    Real leadership is about putting yourself last not first. But I am quite sure sadly that when or if it ever comes to meeting their own needs in this case for medical help Government ministers and civil servants would be shamelessly first in the queue

    those working in Healthcare or using this service

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