Over 1,200 NHS staff back call for David Cameron to intervene in junior doctor dispute

More than 1,200 NHS doctors and other health professionals have signed a letter by top GPs urging prime minister David Cameron to intervene in the junior doctor contract dispute and suspend plans to impose a new contract.

Junior doctor protests (Photo: iStock)
Junior doctor protests (Photo: iStock)

Three senior GPs - former RCGP chairwoman Dr Clare Gerada, BMA deputy chairman Dr Kailash Chand and BMA council member Dr David Wrigley - secured more than 1,200 signatures backing a letter calling on the prime minister to intervene.

Their demand echoed a call from BMA junior doctors committee chairman Dr Johann Malawana, reported earlier this month by GPonline, for the prime minister to step in and defuse the dispute.

Calls to drop the imposition of a new contract come after the BMA announced plans to escalate industrial action, with junior doctors now set to take part in an all-out strike for the first time in April.

Junior doctor strikes

Previous strikes have covered only non-emergency staff, but on 26 and 27 April junior doctors will hold a full walkout for 48 hours.

RCGP chairwoman Dr Maureen Baker said she was 'shocked' that the dispute had reached this level, and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC) has issued a statement calling for the all-out strike to be suspended.

The AoMRC also called on the government to drop plans to impose the contract on junior doctors.

Dr Chand told GPonline: 'Overall the junior contract is undermined by the fundamental fact that a seven-day NHS can’t be expanded at weekends without adequate funding and human resources. The government proposals pose a serious and real threat to patient safety.

'Not only does this poorly designed contract exacerbate the widespread recruitment and retention crisis in the NHS in all crafts, including general practice, leading to unsafe rota gaps, but it will drive morale to rock-bottom, and this alone will have catastrophic consequences for the very survival of the NHS. The government shouldn’t  underestimate the courage and political will of 54,000 junior doctors, and the conflict has highlighted the looming threat to the entire NHS.

GP workforce crisis

'If the government imposes the current contract, recruitment and retention of high quality junior doctors to provide 24/7 care will become even more of a challenge. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that patient safety will be compromised by this contract. Even at this late hour, let’s sit and find an acceptable solution.'

A DH spokeswoman said: 'The escalation of strike action by the BMA will inevitably put patients in harm's way and as the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has said would be an unprecedented crisis for the NHS.

'If the BMA had agreed to negotiate on Saturday pay, as they promised to do through ACAS in November, we'd have a negotiated agreement by now — instead, we had no choice but to proceed with proposals recommended and supported by NHS leaders – which were 90% agreed with the BMA.'

Click here to read the letter in full

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