Jeremy Hunt and the BMA Union Clash Over Junior Doctors’ Strike

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Jeremy Hunt, and the Secretary of State for Health, and the BMA, a union representing many junior doctors’ have clashed over the next wave of planned strikes.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show Hunt said:

“It’s incredibly disappointing that the totally irresponsible way that the BMA has behaved in refusing to sit down and talk about how we can improve patient care and spreading misinformation. One of the
reasons for that anger, and there is anger there, is because they were told by the BMA that their pay was going to be cut. It isn’t. They were told that they were going to be asked to work longer hours. They aren’t. We’re actually bringing down the hours they work. And if you’re told by your union that the Health Secretary wants to do these awful things, of course you feel devalued. Now the way to restore morale in the profession is – the way to restore morale is to sit round the table, discuss what is the right thing to do for doctors and for patients, and also to look at the bigger picture, which is record resources going into the NHS, as I say, the sixth biggest increase in funding in one year in the history of nearly 70 years of the NHS. More doctors and nurses than ever. A total commitment by the government to making the NHS the highest quality, the safest healthcare anywhere in the world. And you know, there are always battles along the way, but I think what history will ask is: did the Health Secretary, did the government that’s committed in its manifesto to seven-day services, did they do the right thing for patients to make care safer and better?”

Hunt added about working weekend hours:

“You’re going to pay more, but in order to be able to afford that, to do that in a way that’s affordable for the NHS we do need to reduce – this is a very important point – we need to reduce the premiums that we pay at weekends, make up for it with an increase in base pay, but even after these changes that we’re making jnr doctors will get a higher premium for working at weekends than the nurses working in the same hospital, than the ambulance drivers who take people to hospital, than the porters, than the cleaners. It’s a good deal for junior doctors. But most importantly it will make care safer for patients, because what we need to do is to make sure that our hospitals are properly staffed at weekends”.

Johann Malawana, the BMA Junior Doctors’ committee chairman said:

“The Government’s entrenched position in refusing to recognise Saturday working as unsocial hours, together with its continued threat to impose a contract so fiercely resisted by junior doctors across England, leaves us with no alternative but to continue with industrial action”.