Video: David Cameron must step in to resolve dispute, says junior doctors leader

Prime minister David Cameron should intervene to overrule the health secretary's decision to impose a new junior doctors contract, the BMA's strike leader has warned.

Speaking to GPonline at a junior doctor protest at Downing Street at the end of the first day of the 48-hour strike, BMA junior doctors committee chairman Dr Johann Malawana said the government was ‘in crisis’ over the health service and appealed to Mr Cameron to step in.

Dr Malawana said junior doctors were disappointed they had to strike again and had hoped for a negotiated settlement. But he said the government ‘refuses to enter into a proper dialogue with us’.

‘We do hope the government does come to its senses,’ he added. ‘What we really need now is for the prime minister to step in and actually say that this is a ridiculous situation we find ourselves in. We've got a government in crisis, effectively, in the health service.

Junior doctor strikes

‘What we need is serious leadership now. We need the prime minister to step in and try and resolve the situation.’

Dr Malawana’s comments came after health secretary Jeremy Hunt attacked the union in the Commons earlier on Wednesday. Mr Hunt quoted the words of former Labour health secretary Aneurin Bevan, who said about the BMA that a ‘small body of politically poisoned people have decided to stir up as much emotion as they can in the profession’.

Mr Hunt slammed the Labour party for taking the side of the union against the vulnerable patients who need a seven-day NHS.

Seven-day NHS

Labour’s shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander said Mr Hunt’s ‘kamikaze approach’ to the dispute meant that whatever the outcome he will have lost the goodwill of the staff on which the NHS survives.

NHS England said that the 48-hour strike was putting 'considerably more pressure on the NHS' with the cumulative effect of recurring strikes affecting thousands of patients. Over 5,000 procedures have been cancelled because of the action.

National incident director for NHS England Anne Rainsberry said: 'The impact of the action so far is broadly in line with what we were expecting but we know that the second day is going to be more difficult and have made sure plans are in place to respond to any rising pressures.

'Patient safety is always our absolute priority and staff across the country will be doing everything they can to make sure patients can continue to access urgent and emergency services.'

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