Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, has rejected a proposal from Heidi Alexander, the Shadow Secretary of State for Health, to trial the proposed junior doctors’ contracts before a full implementation.
Alexander’s proposal was also supported by Dan Poulter, a Conservative MP who is a former Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health, and Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat MP who was the Minister of State for Care and Support in the Coalition Government.
Hunt said on Twitter that the contracts were already being staged, and said:
“Labour ‘plan’ is opportunism – only 11% of junior docs go onto new contracts in August”.
Hunt wrote to Dr Mark Porter, the Chairman of the BMA council, on 23 April 2016 in a final bid to avoid the strike. The letter included the final paragraph:
“The extreme action planned will be deeply worrying for patients, and place enormous additional strain on our NHS at a time of intense pressure. I therefore appeal to you one final time to call off strike action that will see doctors withdraw potentially life-saving care, and to meet with me on Monday to discuss a better way forward”.
The two-day strike of junior doctors will take place from 08.00 until 17.00 on Tuesday 26 and Wednesday 27 April 2016. The strikes will also involve accident and emergency departments for the first times.
A spokesman for the NHS said:
“Essential care will be provided by senior staff. You can help the NHS cope by choosing the right service and attending A&E only if it is essential”.