More strikes planned in junior doctors’ dispute

Junior doctors Callum Ettles  and Becky Beamish, with babies Edith (left) and Agnes Davies  from Southsea,  on the picket line at QA Hospital . Picture:  Jason Kay
Junior doctors Callum Ettles and Becky Beamish, with babies Edith (left) and Agnes Davies from Southsea, on the picket line at QA Hospital . Picture: Jason Kay

THIS WEEK IN 1993: Nursery school for all three-year-olds

  • Junior doctors threaten more strike action
  • It follows nationwide action against new contract conditions
  • QA Hospital in Cosham had to cancel about 40 operations
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More strikes planned in junior doctors’ dispute

The action saw medics walk out for 24 hours and picket hospitals across the country to protest at new contract conditions they say will make the NHS unsafe and put patients at risk.

A group of more than 50 doctors were part of the demonstration at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham, waving placards and singing protest songs in front of the main entrance.

About 40 operations at QA had to be cancelled because of the strike, but administrators say critical services kept running uninterrupted.

Doctor Mohana Ratnapalan, 28, said the new contract being proposed by health minister Jeremy Hunt, which has sparked a dispute over pay for working unsociable hours, would lead to an unsafe NHS.

Dr Ratnapalan said: ‘The contract means that junior doctors are being asked to work more hours than we think are safe. If a doctor is tired, they’re more likely to make mistakes. I don’t want to see that happening.’

Dr Ratnapalan said the contract would force doctors to work more days in a row with more hours. She said safeguards preventing doctors working seven 12-hour shifts in a row would be removed.

Another doctor, Emma Patterson, 28 said she would leave the NHS if the new contract was enforced.

Dr Patterson said: ‘To be told that we have lost a sense of vocation in our career and to have those safeguards taken away from us and a new contract imposed is just unfair and unsafe.’

Negotiations will continue between the British Medical Association and NHS bosses, but if no agreement is reached junior doctors will strike for 24 hours starting at 8am on January 26, and again on February 17 from 8am to 5pm.

QA’s human resources director Tim Powell said the cancelled operations were only a small percentage of the 300 undertaken on an average day at the hospital.

He said: ‘We’ve had contingency plans for some time now, so we’ve made sure we’re keeping the hospital safe.

‘We’ve cancelled some operations and some outpatient clinics to ensure that we’re able to maintain safe services.

‘In the main it’s people coming in for minor surgery that we’ve had to cancel.’

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt yesterday called the strikes a ‘completely unnecessary dispute’.