Attack on juniors is an attack all doctors, warn BMA leaders backing strike action

BMA leaders have accused the government of 'placing politics before reason' in the junior doctors contract dispute as the profession walked out for a second wave of strike action on Wednesday.

Junior doctors on strike outside St Mary's Hospital, London today (Photo: Neil Roberts)
Junior doctors on strike outside St Mary's Hospital, London today (Photo: Neil Roberts)

In a letter to BMA members, GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul, SAS committee chair Dr Amit Kochar and consultants committee chair Mr Keith Brent wrote that the government had refused 'time and again' to address doctors' concerns over the contract.

'We share junior doctors’ strong regret about the disruption to patients on 10 February,' the letter said. 'We also know, however, that the damage which this contract would do to patient care and the NHS in the long-term would be profound.

'An attack on junior doctors is an attack on us all, and on the quality of care we provide. Their patients are our patients, and their values are ours.

Junior doctors strike

'We are one profession and we stand together in support of junior doctors – the consultants, GPs and SAS doctors of the future.'

The government has called the strike action 'completely unnecessary'. A DH spokesman said: 'This strike is completely unnecessary.  It is very disappointing that tens of thousands of patients and NHS staff have been inconvenienced by the BMA.

'We have now agreed the vast majority of the contract detail with the BMA but it’s a great shame they have broken the agreement we made at ACAS to discuss the outstanding issue of Saturday working and pay for unsocial hours.'

Full text of BMA letter to members:

Dear member,

On Wednesday, junior doctors in England will take industrial action to highlight their concerns about a proposed contract which would fail to protect patient care and doctors’ working lives. As before – and throughout this dispute – we, their colleagues from across the medical profession, stand with them. On the day itself, in hospitals and GP practices across the country, we will step up to provide the necessary support to ensure patient care and safety.

Junior doctors’ representatives have been negotiating in good faith with NHS Employers and the Department of Health over many months. But the Government has refused, time and again, to address fundamental concerns about patient care and doctors’ working lives with little regard for the impact of its proposals on morale and recruitment.

In doing so, it is placing politics before reason, making the bizarre and distracting claim that junior doctors are a ‘road block’ to seven-day working, when they already work every day of the week. In its intransigence over Saturday working, refusing to distinguish it from weekdays, the Government puts at grave risk the specialties already haemorrhaging doctors overseas. How can doctors support a contract where colleagues working some of the longest and most intense hours in the health service will be the most penalised? How will a further disincentive to join specialties already in crisis benefit patient care?

We share junior doctors’ strong regret about the disruption to patients on 10 February. We also know, however, that the damage which this contract would do to patient care and the NHS in the long-term would be profound.

An attack on junior doctors is an attack on us all, and on the quality of care we provide. Their patients are our patients, and their values are ours.

We are one profession and we stand together in support of junior doctors – the consultants, GPs and SAS doctors of the future.

Yours sincerely

Keith Brent, Amit Kochar, Chaand Nagpaul

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